Sports and Licensing
Sports are a big part of life for so many people. It’s where we can steal time from our busy lives to play a sport or recreational activity in an effort to stay in shape and maintain our competitive fire.
Many of us parents are a modern day taxi, shuffling our children to seasonal team practices and tournaments. Through the kids, we get to relive a piece of our childhood and cheer on the little ones to victory.
Then there’s the pro’s, the athletes that quite often get paid millions of dollars to play the game that they and WE love! We’re not going to argue whether they’re worth all that money because after all, they are the best at what they do. Who are we kidding, of course we’re going to argue those enviable salaries but that’s what we get to do – it’s our prerogative!
Those same pro athletes are part of a professional team and play in a major league. It’s big business in a world of big salaries, state of the art facilities, fame and recognition, endorsements, merchandise, television deals, sponsorships, fantasy pools, and adoring fans like us! It’s the sponsorship and the merchandise that interests us. We after all, have a great job. We’re part of the Sports and Licensing Team at Genumark. We get to ‘do sports’ for a living. What does that mean? The members of Genumark Sports and Licensing have the great pleasure of working closely with major sports leagues and the corporate sponsors that are so important to both the league and the individual teams. Sponsors make the strategic decision to align their brand with a particular league and/or team. There is a great deal of detail that goes into their sponsorship activation that we won’t cover here but trust us, there is a lot of smart and very talented people at the league and corporate partnership level to ensure a greater ROI on the sponsorship investment.
Part of any multiple-layered activation plan is corporate licensed merchandise – that’s where we come in. The members of the Sports and Licensing team have years of experience with licensed merchandise (15 years to be exact) and corporate merchandise (this is where we remind you that Genumark has been in business for 30 years and was named Canada’s #1 promotional company). The other factor that is truly invaluable is the relationships we’ve forged with some of Canada’s largest companies. These sponsors measure us one promotion and great idea at a time. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we love what we do!
When Sponsors of Canada’s major sports leagues require licensed promotional merchandise, they come to the Sports & Licensing Division at Genumark. With years of experience in both licensing and promotional products, this talented group creates new and innovative products.
Companies invest a great deal of effort and money into their sponsorship. They want to ensure a couple things happen: they build brand equity, align themselves with their demographic, and of course, sell more products along the way! Their activation plans have many layers which may include a promotion that is consumer driven, trade focused, or have an internal execution. They cover anything from instant grat, sweepstakes, online contests, in-stadium giveaway, mail-in redemption, prizing, and event gifting – to name a few.
Once the Sports and Licensing Team is briefed on the level of activation, we work to develop premium licensed merchandise that will provide each sponsor a greater return on their investment. Licensed Premiums have aspects that make them unique to traditional promotional merchandise. They are quite often focused on a particular league event: the start of a season, special event, all-star game, playoffs, or a championship. The product our team develops must resonate to the sports fan, event, and sponsor brand. The premium must be authentic to the sport, innovative, and unique as these items are quite often high profile and in the public’s eye.
When the merchandise we produce have the added attraction of licensed marks (league, team, or event logos), there is an assumed responsibility to go above and beyond in product design and unique decoration. The Sports and Licensing team has the cool stuff. If it’s ‘hot and new’ we’ve got it. We’re dealing with clients who have seen it all and they rely on us to show them something new that help them drive results.
During the Developmental stage, we have quickly established the timing and exact needs the premium merchandise must deliver on to make the sponsor’s licensed promotion a success.
The product is often an existing item that our team has tweaked to make it more appropriate to the brand and the sports event. Alternatively, our design team will develop a product concept that resonates with the promotion. Now, we would love to tell you that every licensed premium we produce is our brainchild, our concept but that wouldn’t be completely true.
Remember when we told you that many of the products our team develops are high profile and in the public eye? When producing corporate licensed merchandise, these items must be the best of the best. For example, a simple t-shirt just won’t do. It has to be the best fitting t-shirt, premium fabric, and a custom retail graphic that no one has seen before. It must have that cool-factor if it’s going to become the t-shirt that sits on the top of the pile in the recipient’s closet. If we don’t love it, we won’t suggest it.
Producing corporate licensed merchandise is no easy task. Each item must reach the approvals of the league on both licensing and partnerships level. The licensing department at each league office must ensure that all league marks are produced in the proper manner and that the products themselves meet within their guidelines. The partnership department at the league office is fully entrenched with the sponsor and they must ensure the product meets the needs of the corporate partner and is properly co-branded to effectively showcase the relationship. It is the responsibility of the Sports and Licensing team at Genumark to know and understand not only the sponsor’s branding but the league marks and all brand standards within the promotion. The leagues put their trust and faith in us. We have, after all, been doing this a very long time and we pride ourselves as being an extension to their licensing departments.
There is an extensive family of retail licensees that we work closely with in both Canada and the USA. It is the job of Genumark Sports and Licensing to maintain a working relationship with the retail licensees and work with them to customize their products in an effort to best suit the sponsor and the promotion.
Genumark’s traditional supply chain is quite extensive and covers both domestic and overseas production. Some of the most unique licensed premiums we produce are through the support of manufacturers that understand the specialty needs of licensing. The next licensed premium you see was probably designed by our team.
Once we are through the design and league approval stage, you would think the hard stuff was over – well think again! Production, fulfillment, and distribution are a technical side of the business that we sometimes take for granted.
Corporate licensed merchandise requires multiple levels of processing once the initial layout approvals are complete. Each league has a production process to adhere to and applicable royalties must also be taken into account. At the corporate sponsorship level, there is an internal team which must be consulted through the logistics application, this quite often includes the agency of record – the people managing the execution aspects of the promotion. Don’t forget about the event venue. If the activation is at a stadium or 3rd party retail location, they must also be consulted as it pertains to timing and delivery logistics…..details, details.
Many of the Sports and Licensing programs we develop with a corporate sponsor extend well beyond one very cool licensed premium. Developing complex merchandise programs that include a catalogue of products are designed to reach regional offices across the country, a specific chain of retailers, or a group of consumers in a targeted marketplace. Merchandise programs are integrated into the sponsor’s brand vision and the strength of the league marks as driven by fan loyalty. Some of the most impactful merchandise programs are built around a specific event – all-star or championship game. This is what is referred to a ‘Hot Market’ Program. Hot market and corporate merchandise is a perfect match. Sponsors host VIP clients at the league event and everyone wants a souvenir from their experience. Don’t forget, we’re all fans at the end of the day!
The merchandise programs developed through the Sports and Licensing division require a consistent look and feel to the event with customization to suit the sponsor, and of course it must be cool! Genumark’s buying power allows the program merchandise to be produced at competitive price points, then fulfilled by order, and shipped to its new home.
The corporate licensed merchandise has been designed, approved, produced, fulfilled, and distributed all to the specs of the sponsor’s promotion and the league event.
Now what? Breath? Well yes, but we’re not done just yet. We need to follow up to ensure client satisfaction and work to improve for our next project. Bring on the ‘post game analysis’. Reporting is a big part of any large promotion or national program. Genumark Sports and Licensing can confidently lean on the custom accounting software that runs our company. It was built with the flexibility to suit the custom needs of our clients and provide detailed analysis, summary invoicing, sales and distribution reporting based on any number of factors – by region, account, rep, date, product, brand, etc. Through this reporting analysis one can develop cost efficiencies and a strategic plan for the next promotion.