SBJ/May 23-29, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLS makes progress with overseas licensing

Major League Soccer has signed two small licensing deals to produce and sell team-branded consumer products in South America and Asia, the first time MLS-licensed merchandise other than apparel and video games will be available outside of the U.S. and Canada.

School supplies with MLS marks will soon be sold in South America.
MLS signed a deal with Korean company Asiana Licensing Inc. to produce high-end dresswear that includes team logos, which will be sold in Korea and Japan. The league also has signed with Brazilian company Supermarcas to produce children’s school supplies such as notebooks and agendas, as well as travel bags, to be sold in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Chile.

A source familiar with the Supermarcas deal said it includes a $10,000 guarantee as well as an undisclosed percentage of total sales. A representative from Asiana confirmed the deal but declined to discuss terms. Both licensees will bring the products to market in September.

“We see tremendous marketing value in licensing products outside the U.S.,” said Stuart Crystal, MLS vice president of marketing and consumer products. “Fans can connect with our teams. Someday our teams may travel there or we may sell TV rights.”

Moacir Galbinski, vice president of Supermarcas, said he anticipates local interest in MLS to increase in the buildup to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Galbinski said the Los Angeles Galaxy is tops among MLS popularity in South America because it features international stars David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Brazilian player Juninho.

Galbinski said MLS products will be at 150 stores in South America.

MLS has licensing agreements with Adidas and EA Sports to distribute sports apparel and video games, respectively, with team and player likenesses overseas. According to Adidas, which began selling MLS apparel overseas in 2007, 98 percent of its MLS business is in the U.S. and Canada. Crystal said offshore business makes up between 5 and 10 percent of MLS’s licensing business.

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