Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 88
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Bryce Harper Becomes Latest Athlete To Land Stake In Company With Eye Black Venture

Nationals LF Bryce Harper has acquired a minority ownership stake in WarriorBlack LLC, a new company selling the anti-glare product commonly referred to as eye black, and he will be its lead brand ambassador. WarriorBlack President Dennis Anderson, whose product is tentatively set to launch on April 7, said that the company over a year ago approached Harper, gave him free samples, and, after Harper indicated he was a fan, offered him an ownership stake. Harper now is one of five owners of the company -- though Anderson declined to reveal Harper’s precise stake. Anderson claims that the product is a new twist on eye black in that it has an added cooling agent and moisturizer in order to increase comfort and prevent smearing. All of this was attractive to Harper, who is well known for using anti-glare product during games and infamously used to wear it down to his cheeks in the minor leagues. The product will only be available online to start and will retail for around $7 for an individual, lipstick-style stick -- with the price decreasing if a buyer purchases larger quantities. Anderson said that the company hopes to sell 600,000-800,000 of the sticks in its first year. The company also hopes to eventually have its product available in brick-and-mortar stores, but has no concrete plans for that yet. Anderson said that the idea to offer Harper an ownership stake as opposed to a traditional endorsement deal was born out of necessity, as the startup simply does not have the funds it would take to land a player of Harper’s stature. The move by Harper continues a growing trend among athletes of taking stakes in companies versus a traditional endorsement.

MARKETING MOVES: Harper, who also endorses Under Armour and Topps, among others, first publicly announced his involvement with the company via Twitter. WarriorBlack will continue to market the product both via social media, as well as through 15- and 30-second ads on YouTube in the coming weeks. As part of the launch, WarriorBlack also is holding a sweepstakes in which it will give away a cap or T-shirt signed by Harper. Anderson said the contest already has drawn 500 entries. The company will be launching a merchandise component to go along with its main product and will be looking in the coming months to expand beyond the stick form for the product. Harper is set to be the company’s only baseball ambassador. However, Anderson said that could possibly change if WarriorBlack expands into other sports. Eye black is a common term in baseball, but the name technically is trademarked in the U.S. by an eponymous company, so WarriorBlack will thus only be referring to its ware as an anti-glare product.