SBD/January 31, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Lakers' D-League Team Signs Jersey Sponsorship Deal With Gatorade

The L.A. D-Fenders, the NBA D-League team owned by the Lakers, this week unveiled a jersey naming-rights deal with Gatorade that will see the company’s name etched onto the bottom of the D-Fenders’ jersey for the rest of the season. Gatorade is a longtime sponsor of the Lakers, so the D-Fenders approached Gatorade directly rather than soliciting bids from other companies. D-Fenders President & CEO Joey Buss said, “Gatorade has a relationship with the Lakers specifically … so it just made sense to go for them first." Financial terms of the deal were not available, but the D-Fenders made a mutual decision with Gatorade to limit the length of the contract to just this season. That allows both parties to evaluate the agreement during the offseason. "If you ask for a three- or four-year deal, and it doesn’t perform, then you’re going to have an unhappy customer,” Buss noted. “We don’t want to make Gatorade unhappy on the D-League side because they’re also a Lakers partner." With the season nearly half over, Buss conceded the timing of the jersey deal was not ideal as it took away from the opportunity to methodically plan an activation strategy. However, the D-Fenders needed to secure a full season of home game telecasts on Time Warner Cable SportsNet -- only 10 aired last year -- before they tried to secure a jersey deal. The organization also wanted to wait and see the ratings from broadcasts this season to maximize a deal’s value. Once team brass had those in hand, Buss said it was a “relatively quick-moving deal.” The D-Fenders are the sixth team in the D-League to have a jersey sponsor.

AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE? There has been talk in recent years that the NBA could allow teams to sign jersey sponsorships, but Buss said the possibility of having Gatorade on the Lakers’ iconic purple and gold uniforms did not come up in negotiations. “It’s a fair observation, but I have no idea what the status is of NBA jerseys,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s something that will ever exist. So to say that this might lead into that is just a little premature.”
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