SBD/30/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

ON THE LICENSING FRONT: NFL LOOKS TO BOOST ITS PRO LINE

          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). 

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MLB, NFL, Nike, Washington Nationals

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