brands with balls
Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 29, 2009 04:42 PM
While much pro sports revenue comes from long-suffering fans, teams (and the star players whose salaries they pay) benefit even more from licensing and merchandising. Certain major sports brands have long had a lock on the market: Nike manages to place its logo on the uniforms of more players in more sports (both professional and amateur) than any other company.
Players' equipment is also prone to preferential treatment. In Major League Baseball, certain brands always get the nod. For years, names like Wilson and Rawlings have been brands of choice for players' gloves -- which is why the story of a no-name brand like Vinci is a sweet victory for the underdog.
Vinci is by no measure an inferior brand; on the contrary, from a quality standpoint, it can compete with the big guys. But since Richmond, Virginia-based Vinci is tiny -- under $1 million in sales -- it concentrates on marketing its gloves to minor league players. As CNNMoney reports:
By befriending promising athletes and giving them free gloves, the company tries to get a toehold with players before the bigger brands come knocking,
The strategy paid off: Vinci has cracked the big leagues. Two minor league pitchers who use Vinci gloves finally made it to the majors -- Vladimir Nez (Atlanta Braves) and Carlos Torres (Chicago White Sox). Instead of switching brands, they kept their Vinci gloves, giving Vinci a small toehold in MLB.
Since Nez joined the Braves, the glove maker has added more than ten new retail outlets. Torres is so happy with his glove that he says he'll stick with it, even if he picks up other licensing deals. Another 100 players in the minors use Vinci gloves, so the company is hopeful the hits will keep on coming.