50 Most Influential: Introduction 50 Most Influential: No. 34 Ditching ’burbs for Detroit NHL brings doughnuts, signs Dunkin’ deal 50 Most Influential: No. 16 ‘Suite’ gifts, and even a few ugly ones Group builds platform for hockey award 50 Most Influential: No. 38 Alabama scores some serious bling Sports Media: NFL steps into esports
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Street basketball brand And1 is being relaunched by one of its original apparel licensees, which hopes to restore the reputation the brand once held as the definitive grassroots basketball trademark.
New York-based High Life Apparel, which owns a stable of sports apparel brands, purchased And1 late last year and is planning a renaissance with a full line of basketball sneakers and apparel. There also will be off-court lifestyle apparel, like fleece cargo pants, with new product likely to be introduced this spring.
Founded in 1993, And1 was sold in 2005 to American Sporting Goods, which subsequently sold it to Brown Shoe Co. in early 2011. The brand languished under that ownership.
On its 20th anniversary, the And1 line will be relaunched by its new owner.
TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
Levy’s notes that High Life employs some of the original And1 artists and designers, including those who developed And1’s well-known “trash talk” T-shirts, which featured such lines as “Your game’s as ugly as your girl.” The new And1 is hoping to relaunch those “trash Ts.”
Meanwhile, a Twitter account called “Old And1 T-Shirt,” @And1Tshirt, had nearly 1,000 followers as of late last week. (The site carried a note that it is “NOT affiliated with And1 the company.”)
This year marks And1’s 20th anniversary, and the brand’s marketing is being directed by Catch, New York. A revival of the And1 Mix Tape Tour, rechristened as the And1 Live Tour, is planned. The brand has one NBA player, Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers, under contact, while 5-foot-5 dunker Porter Mayberry is also signed and will be joined by other “ballers” for three games in Houston next month during NBA All-Star Weekend.
A print and digital campaign is being done by Catch, as well.
Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
Omnicom is merging GMR Marketing and SportsMark to form a single agency with expertise in strategic consulting and hospitality services.
The agency will go by the GMR Marketing name and be headquartered in Milwaukee but have more than 850 full-time employees spread across 20 offices in 10 countries.
SportsMark founder Jan Katzoff will oversee the merger and work out of its San Francisco offices. The new firm’s senior leadership — consisting of executive vice presidents Mike Boykin and Greg Busch, and SportsMark CEO Steve Skubic and President Keith Bruce — will report to GMR CEO Gary Reynolds. A new senior leadership structure is being developed and their titles and responsibilities may change.
The move, which is expected to be announced today, was encouraged by Omnicom’s executives and agreed to late last year by the leaders of GMR and SportsMark, who saw an opportunity to grow internationally by combining GMR’s expertise in strategic consulting, experiential and digital marketing with SportsMark’s strength in global hospitality. It also represented a chance for the agencies to work together to win business rather than compete against each other, as they had begun to do after SportsMark pushed into corporate consulting during the last three years.
Katzoff envisions a combined agency working together in the same way that GMR and SportsMark did with Procter & Gamble in recent years. In 2009, the consumer packaged goods company hired GMR to assist in developing a marketing plan for its new sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee. GMR later suggested P&G hire SportsMark to organize its first P&G Family Home, a hospitality center for athletes’ families during the Vancouver Games.
The two agencies also work with Nissan, Visa and Embratel, but Katzoff expects the number of clients they share to increase as GMR takes the hospitality practice of SportsMark to its existing clients, the same way it did with P&G, and SportsMark takes the corporate consulting expertise of GMR to its existing clients.
But the real business development opportunities will come from winning new business worldwide. Some 60 percent of the combined agency’s business comes from overseas, and Katzoff hopes that SportsMark’s international experience, collected by working on 12 Olympic Games and in 44 different countries, helps GMR as it looks to build upon its international business. The combined agency will open its first office in Rio de Janeiro this April. There are plans to open offices in Asia and Mexico, as well.
Katzoff described a post-merger agency with hubs in London, Brazil, Russia and Milwaukee that could develop work in one market and pass it along to the other in the same way GMR’s Madrid office did when it worked with BBVA on its NBA sponsorship. The Spanish office now collaborates with GMR’s offices in Charlotte and Milwaukee to manage the bank’s activation.
“The more confident we are about a footprint, the more we can say to a client [that] we can deliver services across the board and around the world,” Katzoff said. “If you have a program in Brazil or in Europe or in Asia, you’re going to see the same type of service everywhere. The other benefit is workflow. If we have one office working at maximum capacity on creative, we want to be able to flow that work so that if London is full, we can flow that work out to Milwaukee internally and seamlessly.”
Katzoff said the merger wouldn’t trigger any layoffs. If anything, he said he expects to add staff in the coming months, especially in GMR’s digital and social media practice, which has 100 employees and is expected to grow 25 percent in the next two years.
The primary cost-saving opportunities are on the real estate front, Katzoff said. By combining offices and eliminating leases in markets where both GMR and SportsMark have operations, the combined agency could save money.
Both GMR, which was founded by Gary Reynolds in 1979, and SportsMark, which was founded by Katzoff and Dave Elmore in 1988, were part of Omnicom’s Radiate Group, a sub-holding company for U.S. sports and entertainment marketing agencies. Radiate was designed to encourage Omnicom’s agencies, which range from GMR and SportsMark to Platinum Rye and Go Productions, to work together and share clients, but Radiate took on less importance in recent years as agencies like Pierce, a retail and consumer marketing agency, and Sage, an agency that focused on golf and tennis, were rolled into GMR.
The Radiate Group will cease to exist after the merger. The new GMR Marketing will have its own P&L and report directly into an Omnicom division known as Diversified Agency Services. It’s unclear how Platinum Rye and Go Productions will report into Omnicom. The merger is not expected to affect Omnicom’s other agencies that work in sports consulting like The Marketing Arm.
NASCAR Sprint Cup teams enter a new season with slightly fewer primary sponsorships available than a year ago, but the amount of inventory available with NASCAR’s most recognizable drivers — Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart — is at an all-time high.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) and Tony Stewart command some of the sport’s highest prices.
Despite opening another year with considerable available inventory, team executives expressed guarded optimism that the sponsorship marketplace was beginning to improve. Many said they were having positive conversations with new brands but added that the conversations are taking longer and requiring more patience than years ago.
“Marketing folks are still taking a wait-and-see stance [with NASCAR teams],” said Aaron Godnai, Michael Waltrip Racing’s vice president of business development, who said the sales cycle has gone from six months several years ago to 18 months today. “It used to be CEOs saying, ‘Why aren’t we in racing?’ Now, it’s marketers building a business case for [the sponsorship]. That takes time.”
Richard Childress Racing chief marketer Ben Schlosser agreed, adding, “We’re getting in an unbelievable amount of doors, but you still have to explain why they should be a sponsor and what the value play is. It’s not just about exposure [on the car] anymore.”
The tempered optimism that executives expressed last week represented a contrast from the enthusiasm they expressed at the start of the 2012 season. A year ago, NASCAR was fresh off its first uptick in ratings in five years, and teams were optimistic that sponsorship sales would follow. That enthusiasm faded as the season progressed.
While a handful of teams succeeded in bringing in several new sponsors in 2012, including Peak Motor Oil at Michael Waltrip Racing and Zest at Roush Fenway Racing, there were no double-digit race agreements with sponsors new to NASCAR. That spilled over into this year when Earnhardt Ganassi Racing became the only team to announce a deal for at least 10 races with a new sponsor to the sport. The team completed a 10-race agreement for its No. 1 car with Textron and its subsidiaries Cessna, Bell helicopters, E-Z-Go golf carts and all-terrain-vehical brand Bad Boy Buggies (see story, Page 13).
Ganassi President Steve Lauletta said the deal was three years in the making. It began with conversations, progressed to a deal with Ganassi Racing’s four IndyCar teams last year and resulted in a 10-race agreement for the No. 1 car that was completed late last year.
“We didn’t pick up the phone and say, ‘Do you want to sponsor Jamie McMurray?’” Lauletta said. “We had a plan and built a relationship to do this.”
The difficulty in finding sponsors has put even more of a premium on keeping existing sponsors. Roush Fenway Racing learned that lesson in late 2011 when two of its full-season sponsors, Aflac and UPS, left the team, creating a slew of inventory to sell going into 2012. It brought on new sponsors like Zest and Fifth Third Bank last year to fill that inventory, and managed to renew five of them for this year.
“We’re excited because we believe the retention rate shows NASCAR can work,” said Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark.
Similarly, Joe Gibbs Racing avoided having open inventory this year in large part because it managed to sign a 30-race renewal on the No. 11 car with longtime sponsor FedEx last year.
Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are the teams with the most available inventory to start the season. Stewart-Haas has 20 races to sell across three cars driven by Ryan Newman, Patrick and Stewart, who lost Office Depot’s 22-race sponsorship, and Hendrick has 13 races to sell on the No. 88 car driven by Earnhardt, which saw PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew brand reduce its sponsorship from 20 to five races for 2013.
As three of the most recognizable drivers in the sport, Patrick, Stewart and Earnhardt command some of the highest prices per race of any drivers in the sport, and Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports officials said they plan to hold firm on pricing. That’s made the sponsorship sales marketplace more competitive than it’s been in recent years.
“You have Tony, Dale Jr. and Danica, what I consider higher value inventory, in the market at the same time,” said Brett Frood, Stewart-Haas Racing’s executive vice president. “We know we’re probably all calling a lot of the same people.”
Rick Hendrick said he is confident his team will find another sponsor for Earnhardt Jr. The No. 88 car is fully sponsored through the summer by PepsiCo and the National Guard, which means the team won’t rush to sell the 13 races. It plans to be patient and look for a sponsor that will sign a long-term agreement.
Speaking at a press event, Cessna CEO Scott Ernest said that the company has a 20 percent penetration rate among NASCAR owners, drivers and sponsors. He declined to say how much it hopes to boost its percentage of that market, but did say that it will have a dedicated sales team working to sell planes across the NASCAR industry. He added that the company will use the sponsorship to promote six new lines of planes.
“The ability to network in their world was important,” Ernest said. “We’re going to continue to invest and grow our product here.”
E-Z-Go is working to increase its golf cart sales at racetracks across the sport. Atlanta Motor Speedway uses its carts and E-Z-Go is in discussions with Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. E-Z-Go President Kevin Holleran said the company hasn’t made a concerted sales effort at racetracks in the past. “Now with Ganassi, I would anticipate we’ll be able to do that much, much better,” he said.
The company’s Bad Boy Buggies ATV brand will be the primary sponsor of races at Talladega and Charlotte. Holleran said that the sponsorship is designed to raise awareness of Bad Boy Buggies among NASCAR fans who hunt. “There’s a great opportunity there,” he said.
> SYLVANIA RENEWS: New Hampshire Motor Speedway announced a five-year renewal with its longtime race title sponsor Sylvania. The lighting company has sponsored the Sylvania 300 race in the fall at New Hampshire since 2003. Its renewal will take the sponsorship through 2017.
> THE CHAIRMAN’S CLUB: Speedway Motorsports Inc. is creating 100 high-end ticket packages that cost $10,000 and give buyers premium access to 13 NASCAR race weekends at all eight of the company’s racetracks. The package, which is being called the Chairman’s Club, gives buyers suite seats, VIP garage tours, access to the pit, drivers’ meetings and victory lane, camping space, front-row parking and personal concierge service.
While there is considerable buzz about two hot quarterbacks playing in their first Super Bowl, don’t expect a rush of deals for either signal caller leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Representatives for both San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco said the focus will remain on the game and not on cashing in off the field.
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
“We will wait until after he wins the Super Bowl,” said the optimistic Smith, who added that she has received numerous calls from corporations interested in a potential relationship with Kaepernick. “I am not bringing those deals to him right now. That is the way he wants it and that is the way it has to be.”
One source said the endorsement Kaepernick did agree to do was with the Milk Processor Education Program for the “Got Milk?” Super Bowl campaign, which traditionally debuts the Friday before the Super Bowl. Smith said last week that she could not disclose the company Kaepernick signed with. To date, his only corporate relationship is with Nike.
In an interview in November, Smith said Kaepernick was interested in deals with apparel and headphone companies. Since then, two headphone manufacturers approached her about a deal. She said she is in talks with those firms, but has not gone over details with Kaepernick.
Smith said she plans to sit down with representatives of companies interested in her client in New Orleans during Super Bowl week.
She added there is a possibility that Kaepernick will do an “I am going to Disney World” deal that is traditionally done by the game’s MVP and that she has been contacted by late-night talk shows eager to book her client.
JL Sports’ Tom Kleine, the marketing agent for Flacco, said he has experienced much the same thing. “Letterman has called us. Disney has called us,” he said.
Kleine said it was possible Flacco will agree to a Disney deal, but it is unlikely he will do anything that requires him to sit for a commercial or photo shoot.
Kleine said he was contacted by representatives of the Milk Processor Education Program about a “Got Milk?” advertisement but turned them down because Flacco was focused on football.
Flacco has regional deals with AT&T, First Mariner Bank and the Al Packer Automobile Group, which owns Ford dealerships in Maryland and Florida.
“There are a ton of things that get offered to him, but you know he wouldn’t be interested in because his priority is always football,” Kleine said.
Starter’s satin jacket, which fueled the original licensed sports apparel boom of the 1980s, is being relaunched with the Super Bowl as a backdrop and licenses from the NFL, NBA and NCAA.
Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks’ G-III Apparel Group is bringing back Starter’s once-ubiquitous satin jacket with Iconix Brand Group, which has owned the Starter trademark since 2007. The satin jacket and a breakaway half-zip pullover jacket will be in what Banks termed “limited distribution” — from 10 to 15 sports specialty and “upstairs” department stores — for back-to-school sales in July and August.
“This is a legacy play for a brand we see as resurgent,” said Banks, a Starter endorser as an NFL player. “Starter really shaped me, in terms of going into the licensed sports apparel business. The whole culture of sports licensed apparel today was set by what Starter did back then, so being part of the relaunch is exciting and gratifying.”
The renaissance starts with a Starter Super Bowl XLVII satin jacket that will be sold this week in New Orleans.
“Some of the old Starter jackets are going on eBay for $400,” said Seth Horowitz, the former
The satin jacket, worn by John Robinson in the mid-1980s (right), is back for the Super Bowl.
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
To underscore the NFL license and its 32 teams, Starter is opening an ice cream parlor offering 32 flavors along Chartres Street in New Orleans during Super Bowl week where the new line will be shown to the trade. Beyond the Super Bowl, Starter is beefing up its signage inventory and has deals with 12 NBA teams and some NCAA basketball programs.
Peter Stern’s Strategic agency of New York is Starter’s sports agency of record.
“I was around here [the NFL] for the first run by Starter, so I’m eager to see how this plays out as a premium product,” said Leo Kane, NFL senior vice president of consumer products. “Hopefully, this will restart the whole outerwear category, which was huge for us.”
Starter once had licenses with MLB, the NBA, NFL, NHL, and more than 100 colleges and universities. The Starter jacket was worn on nearly every MLB field. In switching from traditional nylon to satin, the jackets showed the possibilities inherent in combining authentic athletic apparel with fashion sensibilities and made Starter founder David Beckerman, who started as a raincoat maker, a wealthy and powerful man in the sports industry.
“What goes around always comes around,” said 16W Marketing principal Frank Vuono, who ran the NFL’s licensing group from 1985 to 1993 and first took the Starter jacket onto NFL sidelines as a coaches jacket. “For huge popularity like they once had, they’d probably need to get it back on the sidelines, but it was always a classic, colorful look that people responded to.”
Iconix has owned the Starter trademark since 2007 and has sold Starter-branded, but unlicensed, apparel through an exclusive to Wal-Mart since then. The original Starter filed for bankruptcy in 1999.
“We’ll chase whatever [regular-season] business remains and see how much more gets generated by the playoffs,” said John Killen, president and COO of hard goods licensee WinCraft. Killen said WinCraft was “approaching a half-million in sales” of NHL licensed product since the lockout ended. “We don’t know the overall impact yet, and because of the Olympics next year, we won’t have an All-Star Game two years in a row, but we all look at how strongly the NBA business came back [last season] and hope that happens again.”
> BIG BOUNCE BACK: The NBA gathered its licensees, 61 in total, in Las Vegas during the days before the show. Awards were presented, and in a magnanimous gesture that underscored the rapid retail recovery from last season’s lockout, all 30 clubs shared Team Retailer of the Year honors. Sal LaRocca, NBA executive vice president of global merchandising, noted that as a combined entity, NBA teams are the second-largest retailer of NBA licensed product, behind only Wal-Mart.
Through a vote of all 30 teams, retro apparel specialist ’47 Brand won Licensee of the Year, based on its product assortment, service and delivery capabilities. In a season bereft of fad items and fueled by the meteoric rise of a player like Jeremy Lin, LaRocca cited the strength of core licensees like Adidas, Panini, Spalding and Take-Two as the pillars supporting continued strong business.
Top league executives have been calling the 6,000-square-foot NBA Store at 590 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan “temporary” since it opened in October 2011. Now, with a lease that ends in August, LaRocca said the league is negotiating with landlords of two nearby locations with hopes of opening a 20,000-square-foot store in time for the 2013 holiday shopping rush, if not the 2013-14 NBA season.
Women’s shoes for NBA fans were big at the show — really big.
Photo by:TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
The NBA has always been less enthusiastic about the women’s market than other big properties, which can get downright evangelical about their licensed offerings for women. However, one couldn’t help but notice three separate women’s shoes licensees at the NBA’s Team Retail Expo, upstairs from the Licensing Show. Most notable were the varied boot offerings from the Cuce’ Twins, who have created a lot of buzz in that market. We also were amused by Herstar’s $275 spiky six-inch crystal-adorned platform heels, even if we were unable to figure out how any woman could walk a step in them.
Jeff (left) and David Strumeier have moved from licensed apparel to licensed tech.
Photo by:TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
While electronic accessories continue to be one of the most over-licensed categories, pitching the collection with a travel positioning seems smart enough to us, since it should ensure incremental distribution and guarantee survival when that category experiences the inevitable shakeout.
Forever Collectibles showed off a selection of its Apples on Parade, based on statues tied to the All-Star Game.
Photo by:TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
> NEW COMPETITION?: Would you rather attend a licensed sports trade show or a licensed sports “gathering”? That was the question being asked by industry veteran Chris Leslie, who with gift show organizer Urban Expositions is organizing the Licensed Sports Gathering, a trade fair with a “smaller is beautiful” bent planned for Nov. 3-5 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Based on a similarly named show that serves national parks, amusement parks and aquariums, the concept is to invite the top 50 licensees and the top 100 to 125 retailers (who would attend gratis) to a self-contained three days of meetings, trade show, golf and meals in the same facility. Meetings with top retailers would then be all but assured, Leslie hopes. Licensees including The Memory Co., WinCraft, Tervis Tumbler and Baby Fanatic have signed on, in addition to retailers Fanatics.com and Bed, Bath & Beyond, Leslie said.
This year’s licensing show just completed its sixth year, and only in recent years did it receive requisite support and traffic. Since that show was just bought by Nielsen Expositions, and since every sizable sports property has its own annual licensee gathering, the need for yet another industry trade show was questioned by some, along with its November timing, a period in which most retail executives would ostensibly be preparing for the crucial holiday sales period. “There’s enough business to support it,” insisted Leslie, a former sales exec at SC Sports and The Memory Co. “We’re giving the industry an alternative as far as quality, intimacy, size and location, and the timing will allow buyers to get a jump on the coming year.”
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.