Iconic Globetrotters hand licensing off to CAA Sports
The legendary Harlem Globetrotters have signed a multiyear deal to make CAA Sports Licensing their exclusive worldwide licensing agency.
Financial terms were not disclosed. CAA Sports Licensing will work to create partnerships with companies in an array of categories, including video games, toys, sporting equipment, footwear, collectibles and digital media.
The agreement comes after the basketball exhibition team met with several other agencies, said Howard Smith, Harlem Globetrotters president.
CAA is not replacing any agency, as the Globetrotters had been handling their licensing in-house. The Globetrotters are based in Atlanta, as is CAA Sports Licensing, and that was a factor in the decision, although not the main one, Smith said.
"There is a convenience to it," Smith said. "It makes it great that we are co-located in the same city, but at the core, CAA Sports, their global footprint matches up with our global footprint, their vision for our success in this space aligns with ours."
The Harlem Globetrotters, who play an average of 400 games in 30 countries a year, were founded in 1926 and acquired in 2013 by Herschend Family Entertainment, a privately owned company that operates theme parks, water parks, aquariums and other entertainment properties.
The Globetrotters currently have a deal with Champion athletic wear, which is the official uniform and apparel provider for the team. They also have a deal in place with Baden Sports for their official basketball.
Scott Bouyack, co-head of CAA Sports Licensing, said that although they are exploring a lot of categories for the Globetrotters, video games were the top priority.
"We have been in active discussions with a number of different video game publishers and developers," he said. "We are looking to find the right partner to build the right strategy."
CAA Sports entered the licensing business in 2015 when it acquired Fermata Partners. The name was changed to CAA Sports Licensing in 2017 and the division's other property clients include the PGA Tour, Kentucky Derby and North American business for several Premier League teams, including Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool FC, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.
"We really try to focus on sports brands, but this one is unique," Bouyack said. "It's definitely a sports brand, but it's an entertainment brand — it's a combination of both. It's got this deep, deep heritage that brings opportunities around nostalgia, but it also has the current-day relevance all rooted in sport and goodwill and having fun and entertainment."
Although a lot of people remember the glory days of the late Meadowlark Lemon, the Globetrotters today have several NCAA dunk contest participants from recent years, including Devan “Beast” Douglas, AJ “Money” Merriweather and Max “Hops” Pearce on their roster. The Globetrotters have women, too, including Lili “Champ” Thompson, who played for the 2018 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship Notre Dame team.
The Globetrotters have a social media audience of 2.5 million followers, traveled to China last year and are going back this year. In addition to performing in arenas, the Globetrotters are involved in communities and perform for the U.S. military and for a variety of social and charitable causes, including terminally ill children and anti-bullying programs for kids.
"Almost every person I have talked to has some personal connection to the Globetrotters — either it's something they remember as a kid, or it's something that someone brings up and says, 'You know, I just took my kids to see the Globetrotters and we had a great time,'" Bouyack said.
Smith added, "Our mission is to spread joy around the world and bring people together."
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