MLBPA Hits Licensing Out of the Park

Baseball season has begun, and the Major League Baseball Players Association is hitting it out of the park in the business of merchandising and licensed goods.

April 6, 2018

MLBPA Hits Licensing Out of the Park

Baseball season has begun, and the Major League Baseball Players Association is hitting it out of the park in the business of merchandising and licensed goods.

The MLBPA is the organization that protects the interests of every Major League Baseball player. This includes promoting players and developing opportunities for them, both within and outside of the sport in key product categories such as apparel, video games and apps, hard goods, collectibles and beyond.

“We have hundreds of players, each with their own personalities and makeup, that are essentially their own brands,” says Evan Kaplan, director, licensing and business development, MLBPA. “The opportunities for MLB players can be localized or global–we have a unique ability to reach fans and consumers.”

Some of MLBPA’s most recent deals include a partnership executed late last year with Zepp, a sports-based technology company that developed a baseball sensor and app that allows users to measure and compare their own swing against Major

Leaguers.

MLBPA, in tandem with Major League Baseball, MLB.com and the sports entertainment company Day 6 Sports Group, also partnered to re-launch the “Backyard Sports” franchise. The digital game series “Backyard Baseball” features children's versions of professional sports stars, with Andrew McCutchen, All-Star center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, named as the face of the game.

Beyond products, MLBPA also builds awareness for its players through various activations.

Last December, MLBPA teamed with Konami and MLB players for a series of social content initiatives during the off-season. The campaign hashtag #PESgameface ran throughout the month and created virtual likeness of actual players in mediums such as motion/video that moved at hyperlapse speed using Konami’s “Pro Evolution Soccer 2015” in-game technology. Players such as Sergio Romo (San Francisco Giants), Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels), Pablo Sandoval (Boston Red Sox), Adrian Gonzalez (Los Angeles Dodgers) and more posted the videos to social media. The cross-platform activation not only engaged baseball fans, but also soccer and video game enthusiasts, creating a multi-level campaign that cast a wide net of engagement.

MLBPA also drives support for its players and licensees at retail. For the 12th consecutive year, MLBPA has implemented the Players Clubhouse, an incentive program that rewards fans who purchase MLBPA licensed products with an authenticated, signed baseball.

On board are its long-term, key licensees such as Majestic for apparel and Topps trading cards available across all tiers and channels of retail, but, as the licensing program for MLBPA continues to grow, the sports licensor continues to seek out additional opportunities in broader categories, including women’s and youth apparel, as well as player headwear, individual players independent of their uniforms and much more.

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