SBD/November 6, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

USA Luge Inks Promotional Partnership With Comic Book Company Valiant Entertainment

The suits for USA Luge will resemble the look of comic character X-O Manowar
Comic book entertainment company Valiant Entertainment yesterday announced that it will design the competition and practice race suits for the USA Luge team through ‘14. The USA Luge Nat’l and Junior Nat’l teams will wear Valiant-designed race suits for the ‘12-13 and ‘13-14 World Cup and World Championship seasons. The deal marks the first time an entertainment company has outfitted a national sports organization with uniforms inspired by a comic book character. Valiant and USA Luge will work together to create the look of the race gear for competitors in the ‘14 Sochi Games. The partnership also includes other marketing and cross-promotional opportunities. Each suit will be designed to resemble the look of the character X-O Manowar (Valiant). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Jurgensen noted USA Luge Marketing Dir Gordy Sheer last year “mentioned his vision to the owner of another luge-team sponsor, who in turn introduced him" to former Marvel Entertainment CEO and Valiant Chair Peter Cuneo. In addition to “revamping the lugers’ dated suits (hot-rod-style flames), Valiant’s plans include writing USA racers into a comic book.” Valiant in turn “hopes to increase its footprint in pop culture.” The company is “respected by comics fans, but its characters have no name recognition with the wider public.” While financial details were not disclosed, Sheer said that the deal would “allow the team to do things like bring a couple of extra lugers to a World Cup event this month in Austria, where the X-O Manowar suits will make their competition debut.” The design has “not yet been submitted” to the IOC, which “bars logos from uniforms, except for those of apparel sponsors.” If the organizers “reject the X-O suit, deeming it the equivalent of a brand logo, Valiant says it will go back to the drawing board to comply” (WSJ.com, 11/2).
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