Although NFL Players Inc. already has an impressive portfolio of licensees and partnerships that generate more than $1 billion in retail sales every year, Scebelo says the organization continues to look for new ways to connect fans with their favorite players as well as new ways for the league’s players to be seen. “The business development team is really focused on areas where we really haven’t had NFL player product in the past,” he says.
To that end, NFL Players Inc. has launched new initiatives aimed at creating new avenues for player-centric products. In each case, Scebelo says, NFL Players Inc. is bringing the same spirit of partnership and collaboration that has characterized the relationships it has with its current licensees and partners. As the NFL season kicks into high gear leading up to Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix on Feb. 1, 2015, the efforts of NFL Players Inc. ensure that the players get their time in the spotlight off the field, as well.
Best of the Best
One of the most prominent examples of NFL Players Inc.’s efforts in 2014 is the Playmaker Challenge, an initiative aimed at toymakers. Scebelo says toymakers can submit their proposals for toys developed for children ages 8 and under, with the best proposal earning a license from NFL Players Inc. The initiative runs through Dec. 19, and the winning proposal will be announced at the annual Toy Fair trade show in New York City. An NFL player will be on hand to make appearances at the winning licensee’s booth as well. Scebelo says players will be actively involved in the selection committee. “We’re taking a unique approach to the process,” he says.
Along with further development in key areas such as women’s apparel through recent licensee Spirit Activewear, NFL Players Inc. is making inroad into new product categories. This includes an upcoming line from Kervan of gummy candies shaped like footballs with uniform numbers that will also feature players’ likenesses on the packaging. Scebelo says this will be the first entry into the realm of food for NFL Players Inc., and opens the door to an entirely new product category for the organization.
NFL Players Inc. also is working on new ways to help partners leverage the star power of NFL players to promote their businesses. Scebelo says the organization recently launched Activate, what NFL Players Inc. describes as a “micro-endorsement platform.”
Activate connects the more than 300 active NFL players currently on the platform to promote companies and/or products through the social media platforms Twitter and Instagram. Scebelo says every player has value as the premier athletes in the nation’s most popular sport, and Activate makes it possible for all sizes of businesses to connect with them easily. “We like how Activate democratizes the endorsement process,” Scebelo says. “This platform allows businesses to interact directly with the players and hire them for endorsements.”
NFL Players Inc. also is helping charities utilize the star power of the NFL to raise money for worthy causes. Scebelo says the most recent of these initiatives has been “One Team For The Cure,” benefitting the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. At least one player from each NFL team is participating in the program, which sells T-shirts with player-specific designs to benefit cancer research. “We see, from the minute a player puts a shirt out there, fans making purchases,” Scebelo says. “It’s a feel-good operation to see the players promoting their shirt and to see sales and the corresponding charitable donations immediately spike.”
NFL Players Inc. has had a very successful 2014, and it hopes to continue that success into 2015. The organization sees the Playmaker Challenge as a model for the future, inspiring potential licensees to think creatively about the property across all product categories, and to create merchandise that directly connects fans with their favorite NFL players.