SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Other News

Battier may give team an ‘identity’

In a year when NBA rookies are generating little interest from marketers, the sixth player chosen in the 2001 draft is drawing most of the limelight.

Duke's Shane Battier, the first senior drafted after four high school players and a college sophomore, has garnered national endorsement deals from Oakley, the upscale sunglasses brand that also markets athletic and casual shoes, and from Casio and Electronic Arts. He also has the standard trading cards/collectible deal from Topps.

Battier is playing for the relocated Memphis Grizzlies. With that team in search of an identity (its most identifiable veteran is enigmatic point guard Jason Williams, formerly of the Sacramento Kings), there is a good chance Battier will end up as the front man for the franchise. Accordingly, Battier also has regional deals for Sprite, GM, First Tennessee Bank and an as-yet-unidentified hospital group.

The reason for Battier's success at a time of declining interest in athlete endorsers? With Duke's prominence as a perennial Final Four contender and Battier's renown as the college player of the year, marketers have someone they can bank on. Compare that with the first four players picked: prep stars with no national identity.

"Shane was really the only known quantity in this draft," said Lon Babby, his attorney.

While Battier is expected to wear some sort of prototype sneakers this season, the Oakley shoes won't get to retail until the back-to-school selling season in 2002.

Casio will use Battier in a print campaign for its Cassiopeia pocket organizer, while EA Sports will employ him as lead spokesman for its March Madness 2002 title. Babby would not give individual or aggregate figures for the endorsement deals.

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