Sales of Jackie Robinson replica jerseys and “other merchandise have jumped 1000 percent since the baseball season began two weeks ago compared to the same period last year,” according to Fanatics.com data cited by Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. T-shirts “with Brooklyn written on the front and Robinson’s name and number on the back are the best-selling item.” This past weekend’s release of “42,” a biopic chronicling Robinson’s life, has “helped.” But sales of Robinson’s gear “have topped sales of gear for every current player as well.” Few players have “had such an impact on baseball and beyond.” CMG Worldwide CEO & Chair Mark Roesler, whose company sells the licensing rights of deceased athletes and celebrities, said that Robinson is “consistently one of the highest earning deceased sports celebrities.” Robinson also remains “a fixation of collectors.” Chicago-based sports memorabilia seller Baseball in the Attic Founder Michael Osacky said that the value of a ball signed by Robinson “has risen 50 percent, to $7,500 since 2004.” He added that Robinson’s '52 Topps card in “near-mint condition has appreciated even faster, to $8,100, from $3,200” (NYTIMES.com, 4/15). Meanwhile, AD AGE reported New Era for MLB’s observance of Jackie Robinson Day yesterday released a “new, more serious commercial for the brand.” The ad, titled "First Changes Everything," is a “nicely shot film featuring people tipping their caps in honor of Jackie Robinson.” Pereira & O'Dell, N.Y., created the spot with “production by Rooster.” A digital element allows fans to send photos, videos and tweets "tipping your hat" in his honor (ADAGE.com, 4/15).
Marketing and Sponsorship
J&J Snack Foods is taking advantage of National Soft Pretzel Month and its new endorsement deal with Angels LF Mike Trout with advertisements at retailers nationwide. J&J President & CEO Gerry Shreiber said life-sized cardboard cutouts of Trout endorsing the brand’s SuperPretzel began appearing in grocery stores and other food retailers earlier this month. Trout in October signed a three-year endorsement deal with the company and was named its national spokesperson. Shreiber said, “Sometimes you find something that’s shiny and you’re not sure about it. Sometimes you find something that glitters. Well, Mike Trout is as glittering as gold. He is the real deal. I thought he was the perfect ballplayer to represent our brand.” J&J also is holding a Trout-centered promotion which allows students 13 and older to write an essay on why they would like to meet Trout. J&J Northeast Sales Dir Bo Powell said the winners will be flown to Anaheim, Calif., July 1 for a meet-and-greet, followed by the July 2 Cardinals-Angels game. Trout also has endorsement deals with Nike, Subway, BodyArmor and Eastbay.
The founders of equipment maker StringKing Lacrosse, three of whom “played college lacrosse, see an opportunity to carve out a niche business that addresses complaints about the one piece of equipment that actually touches the ball,” according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. StringKing’s mesh pockets are “on the sticks of Major League Lacrosse stars and the once-leery retailer, Commonwealth Lacrosse, can barely keep StringKing’s line of premium mesh in stock at its 14 stores throughout New England, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.” Commonwealth Lacrosse “recently asked StringKing to double its next shipment.” Mesh for lacrosse equipment makers is “generally an afterthought.” A high-level player “might spend $1,000 from helmet to cleats; StringKing’s mesh kits cost $25.” But MLL N.Y. Lizards F Matt Gibson said the mesh pocket for players is “very personal.” The company’s founders have “secured the backing of a few private investors, borrowed money from family members, and sold their belongings to pursue the business venture” (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).