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Volume 21 No. 2

Marketing and Sponsorship

The NFL Alumni group of former NFL players, coaches and executives is using this month’s Super Bowl lead-up to launch a Pro Football Legends marketing platform. The move comes as the group, which boasts 29 chapters and 4,000 members, moves beyond its longtime “Caring for Kids” cause-related efforts toward more member-focused efforts.

“Our total focus before was kids,” said former Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik, who has been CEO of NFL Alumni since February. “We won’t abandon that, but our new goal is more about caring for our own. We’ve been doing a lot of charitable work, but our focus is changing to try to help ballplayers. A lot of guys are in need of a lot of things — medical concerns are right up there at the top.”

The “Pro Football Legends” name and logo will now be used for all commercial activity, which will allow the NFL Alumni to operate more independent of the NFL in selling marketing assets. With a membership base that includes names like Roger Staubach, John Elway and Barry Sanders, content initiatives are also being developed, especially in the digital space.

“There’s a wealth of stories and a message of authenticity within ‘Pro Football Legends’ and we want to use the Super Bowl to communicate that to marketers,” said Peter Murray, CEO of Insignia Sports and Entertainment, which is assisting NFL Alumni with marketing matters. “We want to build an emotional connection and let them to know it’s a clearinghouse for authentic NFL event marketing and hospitality programs.”

Accordingly, the group is integrated within a number of Super Bowl week events: a Maroon 5 concert, Ron Jaworski’s annual Super Bowl Cigar Party and game-day brunch for 250 at a midtown Del Frisco’s. There’s also a new agreement with USA Football through which Pisarcik’s organization will assist in football safety programs with the sport’s national governing body.

The Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show, the industry’s sole remaining licensing exhibition, opens this week in Las Vegas with 50 new exhibitors out of about 350 total, which will be spread over 64,000 square feet in the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday through Saturday.

Emerald Expositions bought the show just before the 2013 event. Show director Liz Crawford said that show attendance looks about even with last year; 5,000 to 5,500 are expected, with retailers accounting for about half of that total. Properties exhibiting include the NBA, NHL, NFLPA and FIFA, in this World Cup year.

The show launched seven years ago from the ashes of the once-mighty Super Show, a comprehensive sporting goods exposition, which closed in 2006 after a 21-year run.

For the third consecutive year, the NBA will set up at the licensing show earlier with its own Team Retail Expo. Monday there’s a Retail Summit, which will feature Disney University helping teach best practices and retail marketing lessons from the Disney Stores. Reps from all but one NBA team will participate. On Tuesday and Wednesday, about 70 licensees will display their wares for an audience of NBA team buyers and retailers.

NBA-branded oranges at Wal-Mart are part of a hybrid licensing promotional arrangement.
After a season of record sales and per caps for the NBA, where’s the growth going to come from?

“Offshore sales are still growing, you’ll see us adding to our collection of female product licensees and we see a lot of potential with kids and toy licensees also,” said Vicky Picca, the NBA’s senior vice president of licensing and business affairs.

A current hybrid licensing/promotional arrangement sees NBA-branded oranges in the food section of more than 3,600 Wal-Mart stores as part of the NBA Fit program. More than 3 million bags of oranges are branded, along with NBA stickers on each piece of fruit. Support includes 6,100 retail displays, along with events such as NBA Fit Clinics, player appearances and NBA social media.