ON THE LICENSING FRONT: NFL LOOKS TO BOOST ITS PRO LINE
Down to single-digit growth in '97, the NFL Pro Line
will incorporate more "technical and transitional" pieces
for '98, and will also "leverage the NFL shield to strike a
chord with consumers," according to Andy Bernstein of
SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS. With public recognition of the Pro
Line brand "virtually non-existent, the league will try to
use the NFL shield to indicate authentic, on-field product.
A new hang-tag program will launch with the statement 'If it
doesn't have the shield, it doesn't get on the field.'"
Bernstein adds that licensees are trying to respond to
declines in outerwear "by creating more technical pieces
ideal for layering -- which seems to be how more people are
dressing." Bernstein adds that more "fashionable coaches'
apparel, including rugby shirts from Starter, are also part
of the 1998 Pro Line mix, a move which has drawn praise from
retailers" (SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS, 1/23 issue).
MLB: SGB's Bernstein also reports that MLBP President
Bob Gamgort said that 14 companies were asked to present
ideas for a new licensing program, with various thoughts
under consideration. Bernstein: "How the league will draw
the line between sponsors and licensees is a primary issue
the league must grapple with. If the megabucks offered by
footwear brands push traditional licensed companies off the
field, will it be to MLB's benefit?" While a Nike
spokesperson said the company "does not anticipate" striking
an MLB deal "any time soon," a "likely bet is that Adidas
will be named" an MLB licensee (SGB, 1/23 issue).