SBD/February 8, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hero Worship: NBA Joins With Marvel Comics For Superhero Merchandise Line

Marvel/NBA deal calls for New Era making headwear and C-Life making apparel
The NBA and Marvel Entertainment are “launching a co-branded merchandise line that puts Marvel’s biggest superheroes” in uniforms that have team colors, according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The multiyear deal “calls initially for apparel and headwear,” and deals have been secured “with New Era for headwear and C-Life for apparel.” Products will “debut at Jam Session during All-Star Weekend” in L.A. later this month, with the NBA and its teams “subsequently responsible for marketing the products.” This partnership is “not related to an agreement between Marvel and ESPN that featured NBA stars on Marvel comic book covers earlier this season.” After the new merchandise rolls out at All-Star Weekend, it “will be made available nationally through NBA distribution channels and via sporting goods retailers.” The line will be “branded for each NBA market.” The NBA and Marvel “likely will add novelty merchandise -- such as mini-basketballs and pennants -- along with the apparel and headwear” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/7 issue). The AP's Matt Moore noted the “super-hero-inspired line will ultimately be sold nationwide in an array of NBA cities, as well as online and in traditional stores.” Modell's and MSG “will launch the New York collection and the Staples Center will be the first destination for L.A. Lakers co-branded merchandise.” Marvel President for North America Consumer Products Paul Gitter said, "We decided, for instance, it makes the most sense for the Knicks to have Spider-Man since he's associated with New York City. When you look at characters such as the Hulk, you look at Green and you think Boston Celtics. There is a method to the madness" (AP, 2/7).
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