Bountiful harvest of Super Bowl products
To get an idea of the impact a Super Bowl in and around New York City has on sales of NFL-licensed products, all you have to do is look at the amount of merchandise NFL licensees are bringing to market.
“We’ve doubled our [Super Bowl] SKU count and sales have already surpassed last year,” said John Killen, president of leading hard-goods licensee WinCraft, more than two weeks before the Super Bowl. WinCraft has enough Super Bowl and conference champion pennants, lanyards, key chains and the like on its website to fill 15 pages.
Considering this is winter, it’s a bountiful harvest for NFL licensees.
|This Modell’s Sporting Goods in New York City showcases some of the Super Bowl merchandise that’s available.
The consensus among licensees is that as the country’s most populous city and its top tourist destination, the opportunity for Super Bowl merchandise without the competing teams’ names and logos is unprecedented. Moving from New Orleans, a city of 400,000, to the Big Apple has every NFL licensee rejoicing.
“If any city is going to generate business just on the basis of being the Super Bowl site, it’s New York,” said New Era Cap President Pete Augustine. “The right teams getting there just adds to that.”
Added Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitchell Modell: “Anything that’s never been done before is a strong seller, so the generic stuff looks very good. Everyone wants to buy a piece of history.”
The cold-weather location has brought with it an abundance of outerwear and fleece and accompanying higher retail price points. All that has added up to NFL licensing czar Leo Kane forecasting a record Super Bowl retail cash register ring of more than $200 million. To help ensure that, NFL licensed product has expanded this month to some nontraditional licensed-product retailers such as Party City, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a temporary 38,000-square-foot licensed product emporium within Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.
All of the NFL’s business partners have been told to celebrate the cold weather that will be the backdrop for this NFL championship. Accordingly, VF’s T-shirts are emblazoned with slogans like “Rain, Sleet or Hail Mary” and “You Say 48 Years — We Say Fashionably Late.”
“Everyone’s expectations are higher and the opportunities for us in higher price-point items like hooded fleece pieces are huge,” said Jim Pisani, president of VF’s Licensed Sports Group. “What we’re all trying to figure out is what kind of multiple having the biggest game in the biggest market produces.”
Kane said he’s had the answer for a while. “We knew all along this would be our biggest Super Bowl, because of the market size,” he said. “Looking at the teams, we don’t have any doubt it will.”
Media Day is being transformed into a bit of a fashion runway. Players will no longer wear on-field jerseys and instead will model a “sweatless sweatsuit” from Nike’s Silver Speed Collection.
Like any tourist destination, New York has an abundant supply of licensed product retailers — and it will have more during Super Bowl week. Naturally, that’s making ever-cautious retailers even more so.
“Our expectations are a bit tempered, because there’s so much competition,” said John DeWaal, vice president of marketing at Lids, which is operating the Macy’s store through Feb. 3, the day after the Super Bowl. The store had its soft opening on Jan. 17. Prior Super Bowl pop-up stores were open a maximum six days.
“The good news for us is we are the only official NFL shop,” DeWaal said. “And we do think there’s something unique about being the first and maybe the only Super Bowl in New York.”
Everything from badges to Hello Kitty
Roughly 50 of the league’s 170 or so licensees have created Super Bowl-specific products, according to data provided to SportsBusiness Journal by the league. Here are some of those providers and their offerings for this year’s championship game.
■ The Highland Mint: Public safety badges
Manufactured by White Plains, N.Y.-based Smith & Warren, these badges (distributed by Highland) are intended for public officers and range in price from $90 to $125, depending on when an order was placed. Officers have the option to purchase up to two badges each. The badges are serial numbered and recorded to their personnel files.
Orders opened in September and will continue until two weeks after the Super Bowl. After that, the steel dies used to make the badges will be retired, and the badges will never be produced again.
This year’s program ultimately will include participants from more than 100 departments, said Lee Galperin, vice president of Smith & Warren. He declined to disclose sales numbers but did say the number of participating departments this year was greater than the numbers seen the past two years, in New Orleans and Indianapolis.
Based in North Venice, Fla., Tervis has been an NFL licensee since the mid-2000s. It began producing Super Bowl-specific designs in 2010. This year, for the first time, the collection will include a limited-edition, chrome, 16-ounce tumbler. “We’ll add a dueling teams design after championship weekend, and of course our Super Bowl champions design,” said Maureen Mason, Tervis’ vice president of licensing. “Last year was Tervis’ most successful year for Super Bowl designs, and we are currently tracking about 40 percent ahead,” she added, declining to specify the sales volume. The key retailers for Tervis’ Super Bowl products are Tervis.com; Bed Bath & Beyond; and Lids.
■ Museum Editions/Charles Fazzino: Artwork
“Our artist, Charles Fazzino, has commemorated 14 Super Bowls, starting with  in Tampa,” said Julie Maner, director of business affairs for Museum Editions, Fazzino’s exclusive publisher. Maner previously spent nearly two decades in MLB’s licensing operations. “The Super Bowl work exists in a variety of mediums,” she said, “including an open-edition poster print, limited-edition 3-D fine-art prints, and hand-painted helmets and equipment.”
■ MyFanClip: Team-logoed multipurpose clips
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s company became an NFL licensee just a few weeks ago, ensuring that the multipurpose clip that can be used as a money clip, a paper binder, a clip for food storage and other bindings has a chance to benefit from exposure at this year’s Super Bowl. Dan Kelly, vice president of Jim Kelly Inc. (and Jim’s younger brother), said a newly signed national distribution deal with Bed Bath & Beyond should also help. The company is based in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, N.Y., and the clips are manufactured in nearby Harborcreek, Pa.
■ Outerstuff: Apparel
Located on Broadway in the heart of Super Bowl Boulevard, Outerstuff has been a league partner since 2002. The company produced three catalogs of NFL licensed items this fall, including Super Bowl-themed jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies and knit hats.
■ The Northwest Co.
Based on Long Island, the Northwest Co. has been a Super Bowl licensee for more than 20 years. It plans to sell 15 product types this year, including a variety of blankets, hand warmers and rugs, a plush Hello Kitty figure holding a Super Bowl throw, and plush footballs. Ross Auerbach, president and CEO, said the company has designed three ads that will be displayed on different billboards around New York and New Jersey during Super Bowl week.
— David Broughton