SBD/22/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

HOLIDAY PREVIEW: 'TIS THE SEASON TO BUY SPORTS STUFF

     Retailers around the country are bracing for this coming
Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.  But
with hockey and baseball both out of work today, the leagues,
licensees and retailers in the sports industry face unique
challenges selling goods to fans who have been denied the product
they love most -- the games.  Over the last few days, THE SPORTS
BUSINESS DAILY surveyed league and licensed apparel executives
about their predictions for this holiday season.  Highlights of
our conversations follow:
     NFL PROPERTIES:  Brian McCarthy, Manager of Corporate
Communications:  "We think Santa's bag is probably going to be
full of NFL licensed merchandise.  This season has shown that the
NFL has become, and is, the dominant league in terms of fan
interest, fan participation, and also back on track in sales of
licensed products."  According to McCarthy, the NFL traditionally
has a strong 4th quarter and is looking for the Pro-Line
authentic apparel to move well this year:  "With the excitement
of the playoffs coming up, you can spend your whole Christmas
season, from the end of December to the end of January wearing
the product that you got on Christmas."  Asked about the work
stoppages in other sports, McCarthy was reluctant to predict
benefits for the NFL beyond the short-term: "We are all in the
same business, and for us to be successful over the long term we
need retailers to be excited about licensed products as a whole."
     NBA PROPERTIES:  Jon Stern, Manager of Marketing
Communications:  "We are really excited about the upcoming
holiday season.  Traditionally, the NBA doesn't run a lot of 4th
quarter promotions, but right now we are doing some regional work
with Sears and Target, as well as some national promotions with
Foot-Locker and Champs."  One consistent seller for the NBA is
the Champion replica jersey, and with the emergence of star
rookies such as Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, the league "expects
some good things out of their replicas."  On the work stoppages:
"We all feel that we are in this together, and if someone comes
to a retailer to buy products from one league, we think that
there is a good chance that they will wander over to another area
and buy another product from another league."
     MLB PROPERTIES:  Retail Manager Elliot Runyon said that,
despite the strike, Major League Baseball believes it has not
lost its fan base and predicted that frustrated fans will come
back.  Although summer is traditionally baseball's strongest
period, he said "the end of the fourth quarter has always been a
nice peak in the valley."  Baseball's biggest push this quarter
will be with The Diamond Collection -- authentic jerseys, hats
and dugout jackets.  The league will also offer its "Fan
Appreciation" gifts (special offers designed to thank fans for
tolerating the work stoppage), minor league apparel, and Negro
League merchandise.
     NHL PROPERTIES:  NHL Dir. of Communications Mary Clarke
acknowledged that the work stoppage will clearly affect the sale
of NHL goods: "Unfortunately, because of our current labor
situation, I must say we are not doing anything special for the
season.  What we are trying to do is keep all of our family of
retailers and licensees on board until we get an agreement with
our union."  Clarke did say, however, that apparel sales are
good, especially sales of authentic jerseys.  Clarke:  "They are
written up as the next hottest sports fashion item, beyond the
baseball hat."      THE PRO IMAGE:  Tom Haraldsen, Dir of Public
Relations:  "November and December account for, anywhere between
30-40% of the product that we sell in a given year, so the
holidays are very critical for us....Fortunately, both the NBA
and the NFL are playing."  On baseball, Haraldsen noted a "wait-
and-see attitude" among both retailers and consumers:  "I don't
expect Major League Baseball sales are going to be real strong at
Christmas time this year." Haraldsen called hockey "up and
coming" and noted that NHL sales have not been affected
drastically:  "The hottest selling items in our stores have been
NHL replica jerseys, and they are still being purchased," even
though the league is not playing.
     STARTER:  Ian Gomar, VP of Marketing:  "We expect our sales
of authentic gear and replica products to be very buoyant."
Gomar said Starter is obviously disappointed about the work
stoppages:  "We had a great opportunity and season finale for
[MLB]. ... And although we are still selling NHL hockey
merchandise, we believe with the games being played, the volume
would be at a higher level."
     LOGO 7:  Eddie White, Dir of Public Relations:  "It will be
a good holiday season for the NFL and for Logo Athletics.  Our
research shows that our 'shark' designs on the hats and the
jackets are expected to move well through the season ... and,
only now are our outerwear heavyweight jackets being exposed on
the sidelines."  On hockey and baseball, White said fans and
consumers "are just thinking football," but expressed Logo 7's
interest in all getting back to work: "We want the ice to be
frozen and we want the grass to be cut, and the players to come
back and play."
     APEX ONE:  Dick Venneri, Advertising Manager: "We deal with
the Cowboys who make up 30% of all NFL licensed merchandise ...
and, the NFL business is as strong as it has ever been,
especially with the Cowboys. ... The Patriots are also selling
strong for us -- the focus on the team has been more intense and
their new logo is helping.  The 49ers are also selling well."
Venneri believes that work stoppages will not affect sales:  "If
you are a fan you will still buy the product, regardless of the
league.  Fan loyalty goes deeper than work stoppages."
Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug