The National Football League Players Association has a unique spot in licensing. It covers athletes in the NFL and turns them into consumer product giants. Over the years, the NFLPA has covered some of the biggest athletes in the world. Steve Scebelo, vice president, licensing and business development, National Football League Association, had a chat with License Global to discuss the licensing industry, the importance of Licensing Week Virtual and where the NFLPA will act as a gold sponsor.
License Global: What role have trade shows played in your strategy for licensees/licensors?
Scebelo: Trade shows will continue to be an important part of our business development strategy. It’s helpful to get out of the office and meet with current licensees and prospects. Trade shows provide us the opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and build relationships. Plus, the licensing industry is a fun group of people, and we miss that personal connection when we cannot gather together.
How do you think Licensing Week Virtual will help those in the licensing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The licensing industry has shown itself to be very creative and resourceful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, how we conduct business has changed a bit – more video calls – but bringing together meaningful licensing partnerships has not changed. So, it’s important for the licensing industry to find ways to come together to learn from each other, to connect with each other and to share how everyone is coping.
What specialized strategies do you implement when creating licensed gear that represents a specific NFL player, and how do you feel it differs from other sectors of the licensing industry?
Looking at it strictly from a licensing perspective, NFL players are living, breathing IP, so they can get involved in the promotion of officially licensed merchandise featuring their likeness, which can be both fun and rewarding. As licensees get more creative, they are finding ways to reflect players’ personalities in product designs, evolving beyond a standard name and number. Plus, athletes have interests and passions beyond football, so licensees can tap into the player’s reach by aligning with shared interests.
How do you see the licensing industry changing in the next five years?
I think we will continue to see the rise in brand collaborations – licensees and licensors coming together to create unique, never-seen-before partnerships. The licensing of collegiate athlete rights, for instance, is probably inevitable and may foster some interesting collaborations. I think we will see the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience go through changes as they look to provide a better and more custom shopping experience. More licensees will expand their consumer relationships and knowledge, and with their ability to sell directly to those consumers. And most importantly, the licensing industry will become more inclusive – opening up to more diverse voices and groups – reflecting the different experiences of consumers.
What would you say is the next biggest trend in brand licensing, and how can licensees and licensors prepare for that trend?
One of the biggest trends in brand licensing is the continuation of a personalized shopping experience and customized product offerings. Retailers, licensees and brand licensors are gathering valuable information on their consumers and will need to serve up the right products at the right time as shoppers look for unique products.
What do you see as the most beneficial habit those in the licensing industry should implement while working from home?
Taking time to check in on people. Making sure your staff and partners are doing well, that you are thinking about them and that you value them. It’s important that we all try and stay connected as we’ve been fortunate to work remotely these past few weeks.