About 100 of the NBA’s top players and the NBPA tomorrow will “huddle about something they haven’t been able to discuss for 20 years: how to market and profit from their own collective images,” according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. NBPA Exec Dir Michele Roberts “pushed hard to win back those rights” in the most recent CBA, which was agreed upon in December. NBPA CMO Jordan Schlachter and the union are “already pursuing a host of deals that don’t currently exist.” The “main area of opportunity is clothing and other merchandise that doesn’t include team logos or NBA trademarks, such as t-shirts, caps and bobbleheads.” The big-ticket licensing items -- jerseys, video games and trading cards -- will all “require companies to pay the league still because they will want to use the NBA marks and names.” But they “will have to negotiate a second deal with the players -- who can hold out for what they believe is a fair payment from, say, a trading card company -- because it would be very hard to sell a trading card that didn’t have a player’s image.” Another “potential avenue will be wide-ranging deals that would allow all NBA players’ names to appear on jerseys and t-shirts of the colleges they played for.” Mobile online video games that “use player images and names are popular in Asia and are a likely target for the union” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/16).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The founder of online shoe retailer Zappos and a minority Warriors owner has opened three Bay Area apparel stores since the fall in an attempt to "extend the franchise's retail brand beyond Oracle Arena," according to Ron Leuty of the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES. Zappos Founder Nick Swinmurn started Dunk Contest LLC, which has an "online presence that went live recently hawking gear such as $60 hoodies and $35 T-shirts as well as hats, jerseys and jackets." Dunk Contest is "assisted by the Warriors, who get a share of store profits." Swinmurn last year "received a two-year 'local license' from the NBA, a rare deal that blocks many of Dunk Contest's online products from being shipped more than 150 miles from Oracle Arena." The store offers a "mix of exclusive Dunk Contest lines -- including 'Super Villains,' born out of a reporter's nickname for the team after picking up [F Kevin] Durant as a free agent in the off-season -- and Warriors-licensed products." Warriors Senior VP/Business Development Brandon Schneider said that the team has seen online retail sales "climb hundreds of percentage points higher in the past 18 months, compared to the previous 18-month period," and in-arena sales are up more than 100%. Schneider said that the "'edgier' products resonate with a consumer segment that traditional brands haven't hit before," and even those "who don't know exactly what they're buying." The Warriors allow Dunk Contest the use of "trademarks and logos," and in return promote the stores online and through social (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/15).
The agent for Univ. of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck yesterday "reached an agreement" with Western Michigan for the school to transfer rights to the "Row The Boat" phrase, which Fleck used but was trademarked by the university, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The trademark "will be transferred" to agent Bryan Harlan and his Harlan Sports Management. Harlan and Fleck are then "expected to allow Minnesota to use the mark as it sees fit, including on merchandise, as long as Fleck is with the school." In return, Fleck will "give Western Michigan at least $50,000 through five payments of $10,000 to endow a scholarship for a football player" (ESPN.com, 2/15). WMU said that it "retains rights to 'Row The Boat' in material and displays to recognize" Fleck and the school's "achievements for a program" that went from 1-11 in '13 to 13-1 with a Cotton Bowl appearance last season (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 2/16). WMU AD Kathy Beauregard: "We really wanted to come out with a win-win. ... There are no restrictions on us still being able to use it, so when we talk about using it in conjunction with our historical season, bringing the community together, the rally cry behind it, the story behind it is always going to be there. And we definitely will celebrate it as we celebrate what we've gone through during coach Fleck's tenure" (MLIVE.com, 2/15). Fleck said, "You look at how it made an impact for a Kalamazoo community forever. Even though it comes with me (to Minnesota), they can keep all the things that are up and celebrate it and really use it in terms of the memories of what it was able to do" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/16).
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