SBD/May 12, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Cowboys Launch Silver Star Merchandising, Sign Deal With Univ. Of Southern California

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Silver Star Merchandising to handle USC's apparel for next 10 years
The Cowboys have launched a new company called Silver Star Merchandising that has signed a 10-year deal with the Univ. of Southern California for the exclusive rights to manufacture, license and distribute its sports apparel on campus and at USC athletic venues. Silver Star, an offshoot of Cowboys Merchandising Ltd., will be run separately by the Jones family, the owners of the Cowboys. Jerry Jones Jr. is Silver Star’s president. Cowboys Merchandise Ltd. COO Bill Priakos holds that same title with Silver Star. The deal with USC consolidates all licensing deals for its apparel under one agreement with Silver Star with the exception of uniforms and apparel worn by USC athletes and coaches on the field of play. Nike continues to hold those rights. Silver Star’s strategy is to develop a private label brand of Southern Cal jerseys, T-shirts and hats with the tags on those items displaying only the Trojan athletics logos, Jones said. Under the terms of the agreement, Silver Star has flexibility to sign deals with other manufacturers to produce items to take advantage of market trends, he said. Those lines would also be branded exclusively with the Trojans marks. Silver Star does not get the rights to sell Nike authentics. The deal is more profitable for USC because Silver Star pays the school a greater amount of royalties compared with Southern Cal’s past licensing agreements, Jones said. He declined to provide specific financial terms. Silver Star is pursuing other college licensing and distribution deals and is one of three companies competing for a similar agreement with Ohio State Univ., according to published reports. The company has also had discussions with the Univ. of Texas but no deal has been signed, Jones said.

PICK THEIR SPOT: Silver Star was formed after Cowboys Merchandising officials began talking with Longhorns athletic officials about the college licensing and distribution business prior to the North Carolina-Texas men’s basketball game in December '09 at Cowboys Stadium. The company’s approach is to pursue new deals with a select number of major college programs that are consistently among the top sellers in sports merchandise. “We would never want to do hundreds of schools,” Jones said. “To do this the right way, we need to treat it as a brand and not just a piece of apparel, and have the university involved in the process so they have complete ownership and are not just contracting out somebody.”
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