It was evident at JPMA, and again at ABC Kids: in two short years, Phil & Teds is really &ing up their brand presence and their offerings. I first heard of Phil & Teds when I walked into a Right Start store in 2004. While I was asking about some other double stroller, the clerk asked if I didn't mean the Phil & Teds? That's the one people ask for, but they could never get shipments, and parents snapped them up as soon as they came in. I could get on the waitlist if I wanted, never mind there wasn't even a picture, much less a floor model to look at first.
Well, it turns out that the original Phil and Ted got bought out by one of their backers; they hooked up with Regal Lager to get a handle on distribution and marketing in the US, and then they proceeded to launch a major, comprehensive in-store brand push. One retailer in LV told me the P&T pitch was, "We take Apple as our model, whatever they do, we'll do. We're selling a lifestyle, not just a stroller."
From sleek in-store fixtures with self-consciously sexy packaging, to an array of accessories and additional products, to a new, tattoo-friendly logo, they appear pretty serious about that, too. I guess Phil & Teds stores where you can hang out and surf the web all day are just around the corner.
The biggest reveal: the GT, a completely retooled, deluxe aluminum version of the E3 stroller. Think of it as a Cameleon to the E3's Frog. Or to the E3's Gecko, frankly, because the one hurdle I could never clear on the earlier E3's was the slightly off-the-shelf, workshoppy construction finish, as if Phil had built it and Ted had packed it, or vice versa. The GT looks great structurally; the fabric didn't sound like a home run, though. At first I'd heard it was a done deal, but by the time I visited the P&T Zone two days later, I was told it was just being tested, and they'd finalize it later. I hope that means there's a minimalist, logo-free version, unless they're planning on J. Lo to buy them all.
Phil & Ted's also unveiled a veil, or a particulate and UV stroller cover, called the Pollution Solution [logo fabric and kitchen table inventor rhymes? Do you get the sense that P&T hasn't quite got the Apple cloning thing down cold yet?]. I'm sure it's effective, but it's also kind of big, like a stroller muumuu or a stroller burka. Still, I can see some tasty possibilities: if you'd like to discuss putting a Daddy Types ad on the side of your Pollution Solution, C-A-L-L M-E.
The booth was stuffed full with stuff; every accessory got a sleek package, like the Cuddle & Carry newborn carrycot insert, which has a dad with a P&T logo tattooed on his bicep [do you get free strollers for life for that tat?]. P&T turn out to have bought out the makers of the sweet, aluminum Me Too Portable Chair, which we loved, but haven't ever really used [It's in the trunk, though, just in case.] And Bengt of Regal Lager did a quick demo of the P&T Latte Shaker, a one-hand, no-mess bottle for mixing formula on the go.
One thing I still need to investigate, though, was in this photo I forgot I'd taken: two mysterious DVD/CD-ROM's, "Phil & Teds Survival of the Hippest" and "Phil & Teds Newborns." Not sure if they're new parents guides, marketing materials, or products, but they sound like a baby gear blogger's gold mine, in any case.