Clinch Gear Joins Strikeforce, Inks Deal with Collective Licensing International
August 9, 2010
Collective Licensing International (CLI) has quietly inked a deal with Dan Henderson’s MMA apparel and gear company, Clinch Gear. If you recall, CLI also inked a licensing deal with Strikeforce just a few months before, which was announce around the Nashville CBS event which took place on April 17. Here is an excerpt from the press release:
Collective Licensing International (CLI) announced their brand partnership and master license agreement with world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion STRIKEFORCE. The long-term brand partnership agreement provides CLI the rights to license and produce all facets of STRIKEFORCE brand merchandise including, but not limited to, footwear, apparel, accessories and equipment.
CLI plans to elevate the STRIKEFORCE brand through its years of successful action sports and performance athletic brand expertise, innovative marketing initiatives, and extensive retail partnerships. CLI will bridge the gap between core MMA athletes and worldwide consumers for the first time by bringing the STRIKEFORCE-specific product line further into the youth consumer market with an entirely new product offering. The collaboration with CLI will build the STRIKEFORCE organization into a complete lifestyle and culture brand, securing a commanding role in the fastest growing sport in the world.
In a similar press release announcing a deal between Above The Rim and CLI, Clinch Gear was shown as one of their Brand management/licensing acquisitions:
About Collective Licensing International, LLC Collective Licensing International, a subsidiary of Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS), was formed in January 2004 and is the owner and/or license operator of Airwalk(R), Above The Rim(R), Vision Street Wear(R), Clinch Gear(TM), STRIKEFORCE(TM), Sims(R), Lamar(R) and LTD(R), World Snowboarding Championships(TM), genetic(R), Dukes(TM), Rage(R), Ultra-Wheels(R), and Hind(R). Collective Licensing International is based in Englewood, Colorado. www.collectiveintl.com
As to why Collective Licensing International appears to be focusing more on MMA recently, IndustryWatch gives us a great recap on the strategic move:
Consistent with strategic focus on youth sports and lifestyle, CLI recently entered mixed martial art space, fastest growing sport in country. Over 28,000 martial art studios offer training to more than 18m Americans, most of whom purchase equipment and supply. Mixed martial arts viewership in millions. Event attendance is breaking records. CLI signed new master license agreement with leading mixed marital arts promotion co., STRIKEFORCE and acquired Clinch Gear, premier performance apparel equipment brands led by mixed martial arts legend, Dan Henderson. Sees mixed martial arts as growth category for CLI.
Video of the new and improved Clinch Gear office facilities:
Clinch Gear New Promotional video featuring Strikeforce fighters: Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko, Mike Kyle, Bobby Voelker, Cung Le, & Sarah Kaufman plus Bellator fighters: Joe Warren & Bryan Baker.
One of the benefits and main selling points which attributed to Dan Henderso’s exodus from the UFC was having the option to sign with Strikeforce, which has TV partners CBS/Showtime and video game giant EA Sports to use as channels to promote his apparel and equipment brand, Clinch Gear, outside of the UFC. Since Henderson’s involvement with CBS and Strikeforce, his apparel line has played a big role in Strikeforce and CBS/Showtime broadcasts, sponsoring the “Strikeforce: Fedor vs Werdum” event by having their brand on the mat and signing top MMA HW Fedor to walk into the cage in a customized Clinch Gear walkout-tee, after a last minute deal fell through between M-1 and Tapout. Beyond sponsoring key fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and other Team Quest fighters in Strikeforce, Clinch Gear has also expanded their sponsoring efforts by signing fighters in multiple promotions all over the world such as Bellator and DREAM. The flexibility that Clinch Gear now has to expand and take a bigger role within the MMA landscape outside of the UFC seems to be paying off, but was it the correct decision in the long run?
Does having more visibility within the MMA casual fan base (UFC) but paying Zuffa a sponsorship fee and working to meet their eligible sponsor guidelines or does having more flexibility to expand your business and take a bigger role within the non-Zuffa MMA landscape, which include their partners (Strikeforce, Showtime/CBS, EA Sports) payoff in the long run? Zuffa appears to be heading towards banning sponsors from participating with other MMA promotions and/or fighters outside of Zuffa who they deem are competitors. The described situation poses a dilemma and strategic dichotomy for sponsors within the MMA industry, a now common conflict which has reached several boiling points within the past few years (RVCA, Affliction, Tapout, Clinch Gear, Booya, MMA Authentics, etc). Some brands like Affliction have taken their losses and were able to cut a deal to get back into the UFC, Tapout and RVCA were able to drop their sponsorship deals with Fedor to stay in the UFC’s good graces, and others like Booya, MMA Authentics, and Clinch Gear have been permanently banned from the promotion.