SBD/Issue 241/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Inflatable Images Hoping Fans Buy Pro, College Football Products

Inflatable Images Selling Pro,
College Products For $119
Ohio-based Inflatable Images is taking its "first step into the world of retail" on the hopes that football fans will be interested in buying an "8-foot-tall lawn inflatable of a player wearing their favorite team's colors and logo," according to Paula Schleis of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. The company has invested $3M in "everything from half a dozen new engineers and designers to ready-to-sell inventory to the monthslong process" of gaining licenses from the NFL and 29 colleges to produce the $119 inflatables. There are two versions of the product -- one that is eight feet tall "with his hands raised in victory" and a second five-foot-tall version that is "in a three-point stance." Inflatable Images co-Founder David Scherba is "aiming for the company to sell 40,000 or more products through the holiday season." The products are "being shipped to distribution points, which include some campus stores, NFL team shops, NFL.com online, Dick's Sporting Goods, a handful of other outlets, and even a few grocery stores." Inflatable Images "won its first license" from Ohio State Univ., and the company worked with Collegiate Licensing Co. "for the rights to make images for 28 other schools." Inflatable Images VP/Sales John Kleban noted that the goal is to get the products "into more than 200 markets," but added that the challenge is that a "minimum of 1,000 must be ordered, so someone in the university community has to see the demand and be willing to offer the product." Meanwhile, Schleis noted while the NFL "required large up-front royalties," Scherba said it likely is a benefit to the company "because it keeps some of the smaller competitors out of the marketplace" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/31).

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