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ON THE LICENSING FRONT: NFL LOOKS TO BOOST ITS PRO LINE
Published January 30, 1998
Down to single-digit growth in '97, the NFL Pro Line will incorporate more "technical and transitional" pieces for '98, and will also "leverage the NFL shield to strike a chord with consumers," according to Andy Bernstein of SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS. With public recognition of the Pro Line brand "virtually non-existent, the league will try to use the NFL shield to indicate authentic, on-field product. A new hang-tag program will launch with the statement 'If it doesn't have the shield, it doesn't get on the field.'" Bernstein adds that licensees are trying to respond to declines in outerwear "by creating more technical pieces ideal for layering -- which seems to be how more people are dressing." Bernstein adds that more "fashionable coaches' apparel, including rugby shirts from Starter, are also part of the 1998 Pro Line mix, a move which has drawn praise from retailers" (SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS, 1/23 issue). MLB: SGB's Bernstein also reports that MLBP President Bob Gamgort said that 14 companies were asked to present ideas for a new licensing program, with various thoughts under consideration. Bernstein: "How the league will draw the line between sponsors and licensees is a primary issue the league must grapple with. If the megabucks offered by footwear brands push traditional licensed companies off the field, will it be to MLB's benefit?" While a Nike spokesperson said the company "does not anticipate" striking an MLB deal "any time soon," a "likely bet is that Adidas will be named" an MLB licensee (SGB, 1/23 issue).