SBJ/June 12-18, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Hornets bring in Excel, Collins to help sell jersey patch deal

The Charlotte Hornets have hired Excel Sports Management to sell the team’s jersey patch, the first such deal for the agency.

The agreement comes after former longtime NBA sponsorship executive Emilio Collins joined Excel as chief business officer in February after helping craft the league’s pilot jersey patch sales policy that was enacted in April 2016.

COLLINS
For the Hornets, the expectation is that Excel and Collins will help bring a lucrative patch deal for next season as the team also begins sporting the Jordan Brand logo on its jerseys. Nike replaces Adidas as the NBA’s official uniform outfitter next season, and the Hornets will be the only team to feature the Nike-owned Jordan Brand logo on their jerseys given the team is owned by Michael Jordan. The remaining 29 NBA teams will have Nike’s logo on their jerseys.

“We felt we needed an agency to help find the right strategic partner,” said Hornets President Fred Whitfield. “The combination of the Jordan Brand on our jersey along with a potential partner makes it more complicated than a normal partnership. With Emilio joining Excel and his vast experience in the space, we felt Excel would be a perfect fit to find the right partner.”

Six NBA teams now have jersey patch deals: the Boston Celtics (GE), Philadelphia 76ers (StubHub), Cleveland Cavaliers (Goodyear), Utah Jazz (Qualtrics), Sacramento Kings (Blue Diamond) and Brooklyn Nets (Infor). Those deals have ranged in value from a reported $10 million annually for the Cavs’ deal to around $4 million for the Utah Jazz.

Other deals are expected this summer, but the Hornets have not placed a time frame on a patch deal. “We have gone through the evaluation process, but this is about alignment more than anything else,” said Pete Guelli, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Hornets. “We are not in a hurry. We will take the time to find the right company to fit our culture.”

For Excel, the Hornets represent a new piece of consulting business for the agency.

“This is the first for Excel in this capacity,” Collins said “What is exciting is that it is different from what other teams are selling with the connection with Brand Jordan.”

Collins said a handful of other NBA teams have engaged agencies to help sell the jersey patches. WME-IMG advised the Celtics on their sponsorship, for example.

“Collectively, the challenge across the board is that there are a number of teams in the market at the same time,” Collins said. “We are seeing that the right type of deals are being done.”

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