The brand refers to itself as one of the best kept secrets in licensing. In reality, it took about five to 10 years of getting U.S. Polo Assn. assimilated into the public eye.
“The brand really had to focus on its authentic connection to the sport of polo and make sure those two are connected,” says Michael Prince, chief executive officer, USPA Global Licensing. “Also, we had to build authenticity for both the sport and the brand to connect together. We always like to say, ‘Where the sport goes, the brand goes.’ The brand was off the radar while we were building this platform of public awareness. My goal is to tell a story of this brand and the sport and how they
While the sport does have a luxury component to it, polo is not an exclusive sport.
“When you think about it, it’s all over the country, it’s all over the world,” points out Prince. “The sport itself is played by men and women, young and old. It’s an accessible sport more so than people realize.”
The brand partnered with CBS Sports to broadcast the 2018 U.S. Open Polo Championship last April, to an audience exceeding 2 million unique viewers.
While maintaining a foot in key U.S.-based tournaments, U.S. Polo Assn. has been increasing its involvement with global events. It’s the official apparel provider for the Federation of International Polo, which gives the brand the opportunity to have prominent placement at major international events such as the European Polo Championship, planned to take place in Italy in September.
In addition to the partnership with FIP, U.S. Polo Assn. will serve as the apparel sponsor for the USA Team at the 2018 Westchester Cup in England. (In the polo world, the U.S. and England have one of oldest rivalries in the sport.) The brand also hosts influencer events, ranging from the 2018 Snow Polo Championship in Aspen, Colo., to the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“Being on the ground with these types of events is a great way to bring our ‘Live Authentically’ platform to life,” says Prince. “It also provides the perfect opportunity to capture the kind of digital content that not only appeals to our consumers, but sets U.S. Polo Assn. apart as a truly authentic polo brand.
“Licensing is 100 percent of the strategy and we control intellectual property,” continues Prince. “We have brand partners around the world that help us build the brand, build retail stores, and grow digital presence.”
Recently, U.S. Polo Assn. was the official apparel partner and outfitter for the 2018 Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup, co-founded by the Duke of Sussex, and provided custom jerseys for all participating polo players, as well as raised money for a charitable cause.
“We have the opportunity to support a wonderful and very important cause while also expanding global awareness for our brand and our ongoing support of the sport of polo around the world,” says Prince.
There are licensing deals that have been concluded in Scandinavia and South Africa, with the aim to sign several additional countries in the rest of 2018 and into 2019.
“We’re one of the largest sports brands in India, and one of the largest in the Middle East and Turkey,” says Prince. “When I look at our growth opportunity in China, I think in the next five to seven years, we’ll be one of the bigger international sports brands for China.”
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