Raptors' Fred VanVleet Prepared To Fill Marketing Void Left By Kawhi
Raptors G Fred VanVleet had "prepared to spend the summer after his third NBA season growing his apparel company, and determining whether to sign with a footwear sponsor or to enter the shoe business himself," but winning the championship last season meant all those plans "unfolded on a compressed summer schedule," according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. VanVleet heads into the final year of his current Raptors contract as a "footwear free agent -- though he says he'll likely wear Adidas -- and a negotiation-tested veteran of Toronto's sports marketing landscape." He said that winning an NBA title will "increase off-the-court opportunities for the entire club, and that his business team spent the summer hustling to take advantage." VanVleet last week "launched a new partnership" with American Express. He said, "We took three or four months and made a nice chunk of change doing a lot of different deals. These brands want to work with Raptors. We're the most recognizable." Kawhi Leonard's exit from the team "leaves the Raptors without a single star to rake in the lion's share of local endorsement dollars." VanVleet said that he has "worked aggressively to fill that void." Before the Amex deal, he "partnered with Roots on a line of special-edition boots." VanVleet: "There's a vacuum for a new face people and brands can get behind. I think I can be one of those guys" (TORONTO STAR, 10/21).
HOMETOWN HERO: VanVleet as part of his Amex deal is starring in "several new commercials" in which he discusses "how he started the Fred VanVleet store" in his hometown of Rockford, Ill. In some spots, VanVleet "wears 'Rockfred' shirts and other gear from the FVV Shop" (WIFR.com, 10/16).