SBJ/June 20-26, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

In a blink, MLB and EyeBlack.com sign deal

Major League Baseball has signed a three-year licensing deal with EyeBlack.com, a Maryland-based manufacturer of protective adhesives used to reduce sun glare.

EyeBlack.com will develop a range of adhesives bearing the marks of MLB, the 30 individual clubs, and some special league events such as the World Series and All-Star Game. Financial terms were not disclosed, but
the deal follows recent pacts for the company with Major League Lacrosse and Ripken Baseball as part of an overall push to move more deeply into professional sports.

The eight-year-old EyeBlack.com has primarily made its name thus far in college sports and is aligned with more than 400 programs. It also creates product on behalf of many companies, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch.

The deal at its outset is not exclusive, though MLB is not actively pursuing another entity for the sun glare protection category.

“This is a natural fit for us,” said Howard Smith, MLB senior vice president of licensing. “This in particular is a great branding extension to younger fans, and frankly, it was a pretty easy thing for us to do. We haven’t really seen anybody focused on this type of product like these guys are.”

The product, constructed of medical-grade tape, will be sold at eyeblack.com, as well as several brick-and-mortar retail chains such as Dick’s Sporting Goods. The adhesives will come in a variety of styles and colors, including black, pink, camouflage and individual team colors.

In addition to the fan market, MLB and EyeBlack.com see significant revenue opportunity in selling the adhesives to the thousands of youth baseball leagues around the country that use MLB team names and logos.

“That’s a very important marketplace for us,” said Peter Beveridge, EyeBlack.com founder and president. “There are so many teams that use the MLB logos as part of their uniforms, and we’re only now able to sell into that market. But we absolutely see huge opportunity there.”

EyeBlack.com, which sold more than 5 million sets of the adhesives in 2010, also is nearing endorsement deals with several pro athletes to help buttress its push beyond college sports.

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