SBJ Marketing: Friendship bracelets, oversized caps join NFL licensing lineup
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SBJ Marketing: Friendship bracelets, oversized caps join NFL licensing lineup

Oct 07, 2023

Seeing all the athletes and universities exploiting their version of the transfer portal, we’re wondering how long it will be before the sole remaining traditional collegiate rivalry of note is Army-Navy.

"Creativity is nothing without leadership" -- Dirk Nowitzki, during his recent Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.

With the NFL season weeks away, it's time to take a look across new licensee offerings outside of the unending amount of alternate jerseys and helmets that seem to arrive each season with the regularity of draftees.

Of particular note is the license granted to Noggin Boss, a "Shark Tank" graduate, that has been, um, turning heads with its oversized caps for the past few years. This year, it gained licenses with Hendrick Motorsports, and now, the NFL. Given the amount New Era pays for NFL licensing and sideline rights, it was a political triumph, with former NFL VP/Consumer Products Rhiannon Madden, now heading consultancy 11 East Management, deftly practicing the requisite shuttle diplomacy.

Pro forma, Noggin Boss was granted a novelty headwear license, so New Era was satisfied that those freakishly large caps won’t cost it sales and shelf space for its NFL products. The retail pricing is also markedly different: Noggin Boss’ NFL “caps” retail for $120 on its own site; the priciest NFL caps on New Era's site carry a retail price tag of $45.99.

The new NFL license -- a separate Cowboys deal is pending -- grants Noggin Boss distribution rights within sporting goods, fan shops and its own e-commerce. Retailers signing on so far are NFL Shop, team stores (including the Chiefs, Packers and Steelers) and retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods, Fanatics, Lids and Rally House.

I'll be curious if the NFL indicia rights add enough legitimacy for Noggin Boss to add other big stick-and-ball licenses, especially MLB. Another recent license was granted by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. "We’re talking with every league and also looking hard at entertainment licenses," said Madden.

Prior to the NFL deal, Noggin has also established licensing rights with more than 40 colleges, including Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.

Noggin Boss was granted a novelty headwear license from the NFL

Over decades covering sports licensing, it's hard to think of anyone better at synthesizing and exploiting consumer trends outside of sports licensing than Michael Lewis at FOCO. You will recall that company’s notable success jumping on consumer trends and attaching pro sports logos onto fads like ugly sweaters, fidget spinners, Silly Bandz and COVID masks.

Now, Lewis is glomming onto the beaded friendship bracelets that have become talismans for all the “Swifties,” more than 1.9 million of whom attended Taylor Swift shows this year. Inspired by a Swift song lyric, the bracelets have become a smash without any commercial support. More than 39,000 listings are on eBay, while Amazon is selling more than 10,000. They’ve also become an Etsy staple, and have been spotted as trade fodder during the FIFA Women's World Cup.

While Lewis cautions it is early, sales of FOCO’s licensed sports versions (priced at $20 per three-pack on its site, but as yet available only for “preorder”) are equaling or surpassing the early days of the company’s other fad-based products. “There’s a lot of commodity licensed product and those companies will be challenged to repeat last year’s sales,” he said. “By the same token, movies and theme parks are struggling, but the single hottest thing this summer is concerts.”

Bracelets bearing sports logos will soon be complemented by those with entertainment licenses.

FOCO is taking advantage of a "Swiftie" craze with NFL-licensed friendship bracelets

Ball Corp. saw enough potential for sales of its "infinitely recyclable" aluminum beverage cups at venues that it put its name on the arena that houses the Avalanche and Nuggets back in 2020. Now we’ll find out how they will fare as a licensed product.

Targeting tailgating/homegating types, The Memory Co. is selling multipacks of what’s believed to be the first retail version of those cups to carry licensed sports images outside of venue concessions. NCAA and NFL versions are just getting to retail, including with Fanatics, Marshalls and TJ Maxx in 15-piece party packs.

MLB versions are also in the works.

Ball Corp. cups will have college and NFL team marks this fall