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Brian Dawkins takes Bollman Hat to Hall of Fame

In the marketing world, there’s a powerful practice known as product placement.

It’s when a manufacturer pays to have its product placed prominently in a television show or movie, so the item is seen by millions of viewers (a.k.a. potential customers).

But there’s an even better strategy. It’s getting a product seen by millions of viewers without having to pay a cent.

That bit of good fortune descended on Bollman Hat Co. last weekend when the company’s newest collaborator, Brian Dawkins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

The beloved former Philadelphia Eagle had launched “The Brian Dawkins Collection” of hats the day before. The hats were designed by Dawkins and Bollman; they’re made at its Adamstown headquarters.

Under the gaze of ESPN’s cameras, Dawkins walked on stage Friday to get his gold jacket, a symbol of Hall-of-Fame membership, wearing a stylish black fedora from his own line.

He gave a 22-minute acceptance speech Saturday, wearing a tan fedora from his line, which Dawkins selected because he knew it would match his new jacket beautifully.

Bollman President and CEO Don Rongione said the sight of Dawkins wearing Bollman hats for the festivities “gave me tremendous pride as (they were) now being worn by one of the very best.”

Bollman is an employee-owned company that’s 150 years old, making the company America’s oldest hat maker.

In a brief video on the company’s Facebook page, Dawkins calls his partnership with Bollman “unbelievable. (I’m) so blessed.”

“The Brian Dawkins Collection” consists of the fedora ($175) and a pub cap ($75). Buyers get a Brian Dawkins Pro Football Hall of Fame pin. They can purchase an autographed 8-by-10 inch photo of him for an extra $50.

Bollman describes the hats as “both fashionable and functional.” The knitted cap comes in black or white. The wool-felt fedora comes in blue, tan or black. The hats are available at hats.com and briandawkins.com.

Sales, said Rongione, are “off to a good start.” He did not offer specifics.

Dawkins’ hat line grew out of Bollman’s long history with him and other Eagles’ players. Dawkins and other players have worn the company’s Kangol and Bailey of Hollywood brands for years.

When the team held training camp at Lehigh University (a 17-year stretch through 2012), Rongione even had his wife and sons go to camp and deliver Bollman catalogs to them.

“As a result, we were supplying hats to many of the Eagles players for several years after this,” said Rongione.

Rongione remembered that relationship when the Hall of Fame announced in February that Dawkins was in its Class of 2018.

“I made a new attempt to reach out to him through a contact that I still had with the Eagles,” Rongione said.

“Brian responded with interest as he still has a love for hats, and in particular our Kangol and Bailey brands. And as a result, we arranged a time where he came to the factory for a tour....”

During that April visit, Dawkins noted “the skill and passion” of the employees and said he wanted to collaborate with the Bollman on creating his own line, said Rongione. A second visit was held to design the hats.

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