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SBJ/Dec. 2-8, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship
Cross-licensing, niches take spotlight for MLB
Published December 2, 2013, Page 9
MLB consumer products chief Howard Smith said sales of Red Sox championship gear were comparable to the team’s last championship in 2007, getting the fiscal year off to a nice start.
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Having a retailer as large as Dick’s Sporting Goods based near Pittsburgh doesn’t hurt, but now Smith is wondering if the Pirates are ready to make a jump to more of a national brand. “On-field success after so long and stars like Andrew McCutchen really made a difference,” he said.
At the licensing show during the recent MLB Industry Meetings, MLB was showing a number of cross-licenses, where more than one license is used on a product. A Hello Kitty line of apparel and hard goods, which was tested last season with some West Coast MLB teams, is being expanded to a full MLB license. “If there is something in pop culture that allows me to offer fans a different way to connect with baseball, we’re going do it,” Smith said.
A cross-license with the “Peanuts” comic-strip characters also is being developed as a tie-in to the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, which will be played in Minneapolis, where “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz was born. The city of St. Paul has held “Peanuts on Parade” tributes since 2000 and a similar one is being planned for 2014 to celebrate the All-Star Game with co-branded “Peanuts” character statues and other products.
Under Armour has not shown great passion for the licensed sports business, but MLB has found a way to capitalize on the brand’s still surging popularity through a deal to combine marks with longtime apparel baseball licensee Gear For Sport. Smith said the deal was not complete; however, industry sources said the products to be sold online and at MLB venues will include T-shirts, fleece, hoodies and golf shirts, items already manufactured by MLB partners.
Other new products displayed at the meetings included high-end, MLB-logoed boots from Eastland, and a variety of women’s jewelry and accessories, among them licensed MLB hair bows from USA Licensed Bows.