New products, new licensees line up with the lucrative NFL
From earlier anxiety about an uncertain economy and whether there would be NFL labor peace, now there’s concern about the uncertainty of commodities. India’s recent decision to ban all cotton exports is giving agita to apparel manufacturers. And for every licensee displaying its wares across the Scout Investments club and suite level at Arrowhead, gasoline was the most closely watched variable. “Clearly, gas prices are something we’re watching, because the effect could be so far-reaching,” said WinCraft President John Killen. “Business is good now, but if we’re looking at $4 gas soon, you just don’t know what that would do.”
Perhaps mindful of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ambitious goal to increase NFL revenue from the current $9.4 billion to $25 billion by 2027, Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt told the assembled crowd that the NFL’s best days were yet to come.
“Some have suggested that the last 10 to 20 years were the NFL’s golden era, but looking forward, I’m really excited about our ability to continue that growth,” Hunt said. “We will continue to see the growth of the league as a 12-month entertainment vehicle.”
Hunt cited digital and mobile media, the construction of new stadiums in California, and international initiatives as elements that should drive continued NFL growth.
TEMPORARY HELP: Since the draft produces the NFL’s biggest offseason TV ratings, it should be able to support a dedicated retail space, right?
The league is partnering with marketing firm MKTG for a pop-up store in New York City in the MetLife building near Bryant Park. As many as 75 licensees are expected to offer products, including some proprietary items, within the 5,000-square-foot store that will open in April for a monthlong stand. The draft begins April 26.
“We’re trying to harness the energy of the NFL brand and the draft and make a real statement,” Kane said.
Nike’s Chiefs shirt was front and center at its booth.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Rights for new on-field licensees Nike and New Era begin April 1, and both were on hand showcasing their new NFL wares.
Nike will show NFL owners their new uniforms at the league meeting in Florida later this month, to be followed by an April 3 event in New York City at which a player from each of the 32 NFL teams will be present. However, inan attempt to build demand, the new jerseys aren’t expected to be available until a few weeks later, on draft day.
In Kansas City, Nike was showing a variety of sideline coaches wear and NFL-logoed versions of some of its most popular performance pieces, like the Destroyer jacket, the K.O. hoodie, and Nike Tempo women’s track shorts. Front and center at Nike’s booth was a red swoosh shirt that read “Chiefs Just Do It.”
|New Era hats for training camp (in white) and the draft|
“Considering our [baseball] heritage, we want to get ourauthenticity in the football world established right away,” said Augustine, adding that his company hired 150 people to support its new NFL rights, with another 120 positions still to be filled.
Longtime sock licensee For Bare Feet hopes for a spike in shoe sales.
Meanwhile, the NFL used the Chiefs’ K.C. Wolf mascot, along with some kids, to tell licensees about an expansion of its Rush Zone youth marketing platform. The animated show of the same name will relaunch in November on Nickelodeon and NFL Network. “We see a real opportunity here for a toy licensee,” said Tracey Bleczinski, NFL vice president of consumer products. “As much support as we’ve put behind targeting women for the past few years, we’ll be giving that and more to kids’ initiatives moving forward.”
Duck Tape is ready to stick it to the competition with a new lineup of NFL-logoed products.
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.