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Volume 20 No. 42
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Expect early arrival for Super Bowl licensed merchandise

Terry Lefton
What’s the retail potential for the first Super Bowl in America’s biggest market? That’s a bit like asking “how high is up?” But that was one of the issues being debated among the more than 100 licensees at last week’s NFL Consumer Products Summit in Nashville. The 11th annual gathering of NFL licensing partners attracted easily its largest crowd ever,
and many were already predicting strong sales for next year’s NFL championship at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Eager to stoke the retail fires, the NFL is encouraging its largest apparel and hard-goods licensees to get Super Bowl-licensed product at retailers in the host New York market as soon as next month — far earlier than normal.

“The earliest I can recall Super Bowl stuff in market is late July or early August for the 2006 Detroit Super Bowl, but this year you will see Super Bowl product for sale around the [April 25] NFL draft,” said Leo Kane, NFL senior vice president of consumer products. “With the Super Bowl being in New York and all the tourist traffic, there’s a really big opportunity.’’

While Kane would not say what kind of multiple he’s expecting, several licensees said the league is hoping for a three-times to five-times bump in generic product. One intriguing sidelight to Super Bowl-licensed products being available so early is that it will compete for shelf space with licensed products for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game in New York.

The new Super Bowl logo, which licensees saw for the first time, includes the stadium and skyline.
“There probably will be a decent tourist business, but for us the biggest difference will be whether there is a local New York or even East Coast team playing. That would be huge,’’ said Mitchell Modell, CEO of the 150-store sporting goods chain which bears his family name. “We’ll start our larger [Super Bowl] buys with the [NFL] season and especially for fourth quarter. I’m sure this will be big for the holidays.’’

Another way the league is hoping to boost sales of generic (non-team specific) Super Bowl-licensed products is by returning to the use of a Super Bowl logo that incorporates local elements. Over the past three years, the Super Bowl logo has been decidedly generic: a Lombardi Trophy image atop the appropriate Roman numeral. For Super Bowl XLVIII, it will revert to being regionalized, combining the trophy with an image of MetLife Stadium and some of New York’s most recognizable buildings. When showing the logo to licensees for the first time, NFL Creative Director Shandon Melvin also discussed some of the Super Bowl XLVIII slogans that will be available for licensees. The tag lines have not been finalized, but some themes under consideration for the first outdoor Super Bowl in cold weather have a decidedly New York/New Jersey flavor. They include “Rain, Sleet, and Hail Mary”; “You Say 48 Years, We Say Fashionably Late”; “Unfugheddable”; and “We’ve Got This One Uncovered.”

With no NFL Experience at the next Super Bowl, the question of an additional retail presence for league licensees in Manhattan during Super Bowl Week is an interesting one. Kane said plans have not been finalized, but a pop-up store somewhere adjacent to Broadway between 33rd and 44th streets, which will be transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard” during the week before the game, is one scenario being discussed.

> FEMININE MYSTIQUE: After a number of years of preaching to licensees at the annual summit and elsewhere about the importance of developing more items for female fans, there was unquestionably more women’s products than ever at the Nashville show. Cuce Shoes, which drew enough raves for its logoed “Wellies,” or rain boots, that they were featured in a TV ad from the NFL, has extended into sweaters and other women’s apparel. Not to say the Cuce twins have abandoned footwear. Noting the explosive popularity of Tory Burch’s
ballet flats, Cuce is producing NFL flats made from “synthetic leather” with team marks replacing the Tory Burch logo. They’ll be priced around $80 at retail.

We also enjoyed the handbags and accessories from Little Earth and the fetching apparel designs from new apparel licensee Meesh & Mia. Even outside of apparel, female tastes are affecting an increasing portion of the

Products pointed toward women blossomed at the NFL Consumer Products Summit, including the Team Wine Shoe from Team Sports America (top), ballet flats from Cuce and Meesh & Mia tops.
licensed sports marketplace. There were some snickers from other hard-goods licensees a few years ago when Team Sports America began selling a $39.99 logoed wine bottle stand, fashioned after a high-heeled pump. However, the “Team Wine Shoe” has been the company’s top-selling NFL product for the past two years. Perhaps it’s a demonstration of the power inherent in combining female NFL fans’ passion for their favorite teams with their inner Imelda Marcos. “Women love shoes, so maybe it’s as simple as that,” said Jaclyn Smith, regional account executive for parent company Evergreen Enterprises.

Collegiate-logoed versions are next, though we were told the University of Alabama rejected the opportunity.

> RUSHING IN: With an eye toward attracting kids to the NFL, the league has been pushing for licensee support around its “Rush Zone” Nicktoons cartoon property for several years and it looks like it’s starting to gain some traction. Around 30 licensees are onboard and a planned premium promotion by new league sponsor McDonald’s this fall should also help garner support. “There’s definitely momentum and we have filled some good [licensing] categories,” said Kane. “We want to claim that kid space with some big toy deals.”

(Left) PPW replaces familiar colors with NFL team logos on the branded Rubik’s Cubes. (Right) Chin scratcher: Pro Specialty Group’s inflatable fake beard, only $4.99.
> LICENSING LINES: While there was no showstopper product, there were plenty of highlights within the toy category. PPW’s NFL team-logoed Rubik’s Cubes struck us as a nice update on a classic. Laser Pegs, a clever combination of a Lego-like construction toy and Lite Brite, caught a lot of eyes but we’re not quite sure what an NFL license added to an already-nifty toy. Those aerodynamically inclined could choose between Sports Logo Lights’ NFL-logoed remote control helmet helicopter ($64.99), which projects a team logo as it flies, or Pangea Brand’s NFL-logoed revival of the classic rubber band-powered balsa glider ($5.99). … Newest entrants of the NFL’s “million-dollar club” of licensees who have sold enough to generate a million in royalties for the league were Boelter Brands and The Memory Company, testimony to the continued vibrancy of “homegating” and domestic products, like drinkware … New to our “never saw a logo on that before” category includes Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly’s MyFanClip, a multipurpose binder clip with a logo with NFL, NASCAR and NCAA licenses; Fan Creations’ tissue box cozy ($19.99); Pro Specialty Group’s logoed and inflatable fake beard ($4.99) and Team Sports America’s hefty NFL licensed flyswatter ($8), in the shape of a football helmet.

Terry Lefton can be reached at