May 17, 2011
Round 5 collectibles announced today that it has signed an exclusive global licensing agreement with Bruce Lee Enterprises to produce Bruce Lee-themed collectibles, toys and games until 2015.
Via Round 5 press release:
“We are honored to be working with a brand with such a storied legacy as Bruce Lee,” Lau said. “We feel that we can use this opportunity to broaden the reach of both Bruce Lee and Round 5 into the niche collectible and mainstream arenas as there is already so much synergy between our brands.”
Shannon Lee, President & CEO of Bruce Lee Enterprises and daughter of Bruce Lee, believes Round 5 is the perfect partner to carry her father’s legacy into the 21st century.
“We are constantly approached by companies that want to create products under the Bruce Lee name, but we always knew we wanted to wait until we found a company that would adequately compliment my father’s legacy,” said Lee. “We are so very proud to have found Damon Lau and Round 5, we believe that Round 5 will honor my father’s name and create products that will respect his legacy.”
Development on Bruce Lee products has begun and Round 5 expects Lee products by the fall of 2011.
As you may recall, in addition to Bruce Lee, Round 5 has a licensing deal with the UFC. This move helps Round 5 in the combat sports market as Bruce Lee is still a very popular figure amongst fight enthusiasts. For Bruce Lee Enterprises, its a good move considering the work and exposure Round 5 has received working with the UFC.
September 7, 2010
The fastest growing sport in the world just got put on an even faster track to mainstream awareness and one step closer to Madison Ave’s biggest dollars after one of the biggest brand licensing companies have jumped directly into the deep end of the mixed martial arts’ pool.
Authentic Brands Group LLC, a company with a giant global footprint in the worlds of apparel, consumer electronics and action sports has today announced the acquisition of TapouT, TapouT MPS, Silver Star Casting Company, Iron Star and Hitman Fight Gear to it’s portfolio, which also includes the Bob Marley Brands, among dozens of others.
In today’s press release, Authentic Brands Group’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Salter said, “This sport is still in its infancy. We strategically chose these acquisitions as our first big move because we’re getting into the right business at the right time. We’re looking forward to working with the best brands and the best athletes in the world as we transition these two companies into global lifestyle brands with our retail and licensing partners.”
In his first interview since the announcement, Silver Star president and founder Luke Burrett tells me the deal took about nine months to close, and it’s going to be mean big things for MMA fans.
“Authentic Brands Group is a brand development and licensing company. In conjunction with Leonard Green & Partners, our mandate is to acquire, manage and build long-term value in prominent consumer brands,” says Burrett, who will maintain his title for the Silver Star and Iron Star brands.
He said ABG’s overall strategy for the brands is to become a full licensing model.
“The beauty of a full licensing model from the consumer standpoint is that the products get better – at least it will with us because our internal mandate is to work with the best in class licensees,” said Burrett. “Its a simple formula really, the best brands work with the best licensees and best retailers. Plus, we have rigorous rules and regulations for our licensees – we literally approve every single product, ad, you name it. Because of this strategy, each partner gets to do what they do best, and we can focus on what we do best – and that’s marketing and building a brand.
That means TapouT’s Punkass and Skyskrape, along with Luke’s wife, Charis Burrett, will continue to be mainstays on the MMA scene, although today’s press release makes no mention of TapouT chairman Marc Kreinert.
Burrett says the acquisition of his company has always been part of his and wife Charis’ strategy.
“In business, every company reaches a point where they need to make the best decision for the company,” he said. “Charis and I have put many years into Silver Star and still have a lot of passion for the brand! ABG is the right partner and we look forward to a great future. This acquisition will strengthen every facet of Silver Star, not just MMA, so we look to our partnership with ABG to take the company to the next level in all of areas,” he said.
Silver Star sponsors UFC Middleweight champ Anderson Silva and fan favorite Clay Guida, and has had deals in place at one time or another with the likes of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Bones Jones.
The buzz about the ABG acquisitions, which may include more brands in the near future (think Sinister), was loud at last month’s UFC Fan Expo, where guys like Burrett, Skrape and Punkass were noticeably more relaxed than usual, with representatives from ABG doing most of the heavy lifting this time around.
“Since we are now going into a licensing model, I will have more time to work with our athletes and the marketing direction of the brand,” he said.
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.
May 24, 2010
American Kickboxing Academy has announced that it will officially begin its licensing program at this weekend’s UFC Expo that coincides with UFC 114 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The American Kickboxing Academy® is going to present opportunities to license its federally registered trademark at the UFC® Fan Expo™ on May 28-29 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Several American Kickboxing Academy® team members will make appearances at AKA™’s booth, including undefeated heavyweight sensation Cain Velasquez, welterweight number one contender Josh Koscheck, and fan favorites Jon Fitch and Mike Swick. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase AKA™ apparel and collect autographs, as well as to win autographed items through contests. Clients interested in licensing opportunities will have the chance to discuss ways to partner with AKA™, including affiliated training facilities and product licensing.
I can’t help but feel as though we’re finally starting to see a bit of a business evolution within the mixed martial arts industry. Some of these companies have realized that they have valuable properties with significant exploitable potential; and, as a result, they’re now moving to license or sell those properties to earn extra revenue. We saw it first with the UFC’s merchandising and collectibles initiatives – and many would argue that they took too long to do that – and now we’re seeing brands like Tapout and AKA explore more opportunities than what are just immediately in front of them.
April 13, 2010
Strikeforce has announced a licensing partnership with Collective Licensing International that should give the MMA promotion a much-needed boost on the ancillary revenue side of the business.
(Englewood, CO) April 12, 2010 – Collective Licensing International (CLI) today 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 though 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.
You may recall that Strikeforce reportedly sold just $8,000 in merchandise at Strikeforce: Miami in January, so the importance of this licensing deal cannot be understated. The deal should help to provide additional revenue, diversify the company’s revenue streams (necessary from a risk mitigation standpoint), and assist in driving home a brand message.
I have been both complimentary and critical of Strikeforce – just as I have been of the UFC and other promotions in the past. The biggest obstacles to this company’s success that I see right now are its brand image and its communication. Both really go hand in hand, but Strikeforce has yet to establish its core brand from a positioning standpoint. What does it want to be and what are the 4-5 words that you’d associate with Strikeforce? Until the company can answer those questions and communicate them to the MMA demographic, it will continue to be a niche player in the sport.
Why? There’s a lot of confusion out there in the marketplace and without a differentiating brand, most will continue to confuse the Strikeforce product as that “UFC” stuff.
April 7, 2010
Jesse Holland of MMAMania.com does a good job of breaking down the latest series of UFC figurines to come out of JAKKS Pacific (courtesy of the UFC Toys Facebook page). Information is also available on the Jakks website.
Here’s where the UFC license sharing deal between JAKKS and Round 5 MMA comes into play. Many of the new figurines that debut as part of this new series with JAKKS were fighters originally held by Round 5. The deal has opened up a greater array of options to both companies, including promotional tie-in with the much larger and more recognizable UFC brand.
It’s a good example of co-operation within the industry growing the entire pie of market demand.
Note: the use of social media by the UFC; these guys have a Facebook page and Twitter account for nearly everything it seems. Traffic on social networking sites is out-pacing even the most highly visited of traditional sites — it’s a smart move.
August 6, 2009
Jakks Pacific, the manufacturer of toy collectibles and master toy licensee of the UFC, has signed an agreement with Round 5 MMA to sub-license UFC talent rights.
As always, Payout Perspective follows the press release below:
JAKKS Pacific, Inc. (Nasdaq: JAKK), leading U.S. toymaker and master toy licensee for Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), announced today a sub-licensing agreement with Mixed Marital Arts (MMA) collectibles company, Round 5 Corp., to share UFC and MMA talent. The agreement will allow both companies access to the biggest MMA fighters in order to manufacture, market and distribute action figures and related products under the UFC umbrella.
As a result, both companies now have access to a significantly larger MMA talent pool, including Randy Couture, Andrei Arlovski, Matt Hughes, Jake Shields, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn and other top MMA fighters.
“This is truly a match made in heaven and we are excited to enter into this agreement with Round 5,” said Jeremy Padawer, SVP Boys Entertainment Marketing, JAKKS Pacific. “As the master toy licensee for the UFC, JAKKS can now offer MMA fans an entire world of action figures, accessories and other collectibles encompassing the most notable fighters in the fight world. The synergy between JAKKS® and Round 5® will ensure cohesive and comprehensive merchandise offering at retail that will benefit all parties involved, including JAKKS, Round 5 and the UFC, as well as the MMA fighters themselves, and most importantly, MMA fans.”
JAKKS’ new UFC line of toys and collectibles is expected to be available at retailers nationwide starting this Fall, with plans to roll out the newly acquired talent beginning as early as Spring 2010. Along with the full line of deluxe articulated action figures, JAKKS also expects to offer Octagon playsets, accessories and role play toys based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), PRIDE® Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting® (WEC®).
“We want to provide fans with the most complete and authentic line of UFC products,” said UFC President Dana White. “This agreement with JAKKS Pacific and Round 5 brings the biggest players in the MMA action figure world together – now our fans will have access to the best and most diverse line of action figures.”
Damon Lau, President, Round 5, stated, “We are thrilled to partner with JAKKS and UFC, and we are confident that our teamwork will produce a more comprehensive product offering for MMA fans. In addition, JAKKS and R5 will facilitate marketing and distribution efficiencies at retail to increase exposure of our core product offerings. We are very excited to expand our line of 6″ display collectible figurines and 10″ display collectible statues with more of the biggest names in MMA.”
The deal greatly expands the MMA talent pool for both companies and will help to boost their bottom line through improved distribution synergies. I was curious about the distribution in particular, so I contacted Damon Lau from Round 5 to get his thoughts:
“Moving forward, Round 5 and Jakks Pacific will be working together through our combined distribution channels, including mass retail, international and independent retail channels. The key synergy lies in a more complete overall product category offering to retailers. Whether it’s a 3.5 inch figure a 10 inch figure or any size in between, this ‘complete’ range of product offering is now available to all consumers who are fans of the sports despite whether they want to ‘play or display.’”
This is also a huge victory for the fighters in the UFC. The new Round 5 lines to come – including figurines of Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn, Clay Guida, and more – will offer they typical Round 5 MMA royalties which are 4-5 times the toy industry standard. In turn, fighters like Couture that were previously exclusive to Round 5, will now also have the benefit of Jakks distribution.
In fact the only downside to this deal – from an MMA perspective – might be that it has created significant barriers to entry that might prevent new companies from entering the MMA collectible segment of the toy industry.
In the grand scheme of things, though, this seems to be a very good deal for MMA as a whole: its fans, its fighters, and some of its most prominent companies.
February 11, 2009
One of the criticisms leveled against the UFC was that it seemed to take an awfully long time for MMA’s dominant brand to monetize its name by licensing. Silver Buffalo was among the first companies to partner with the UFC to create a line of products. The company already had standing agreements with other major brands, including the WWE, Miller Beers and Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquors.
MMAPayout’s Andrew Falzon recently spoke with Silver Buffalo’s Vice President Greg Alprin about the UFC line, which debuted in October and are available at retailers like Hastings, Spencer Gifts and independent retailers and on UFC.com.
Andrew Falzon, MMAPayout: What first attracted Silver Buffalo to the UFC?
Greg Alprin, Silver Buffalo: Gaining popularity at an unprecedented pace. UFC’s roster of top fighters, incredible pay per view events, and nonstop schedule and the weekly reality series The Ultimate Fighter, coupled with our expertise as the leader in licensed home décor and accessories for men 18-34 saw an opportunity to bring quality product to the rabid fan base who demand quality products.
AF: Are there any products unique to the UFC line that don’t appear in other licensed brand lines, that are made specifically for UFC fans?
GA: Yes, we developed a heavy bag lamp that is a take on the actual heavy bags sold in sporting good stores, and seen on the tv show. We also spent a lot of time and money developing a line that centers around the octagon shaped ring.
AF: A lot of your brands seem to have overlapping demographics. What brand demos overlap most with the UFC?
GA: Initially we felt the demo’s on UFC were core 18-34 year old males, but to our surprise there is a large female demographic that is growing, along with a fast growing demographic of younger teen agers following the sport.
Our core male brands like Guinness, Captain Morgan, and roster of classic rock bands like Kiss, Bob Marley,& Jimi Hendrix would be the closest to the overall UFC demographic being men 18-34.
AF: Since launching the UFC branded products, how have those product sales compared to WWE branded products?
GA: There is no comparison. WWE is a cyclical property, which is now on a heavy down trend. Also, WWE is mainly a kids/youth driven property at this point in its cycle. UFC is an trending brand, which is only getting stronger.
AF: Of UFC branded products, what are your top 3 (or top 5 if you want to list those) sellers?
GA: 1. Barware/Drink ware, 2. Heavy Bag Lamp 3. Watches
AF: Any plans on WEC branded merchandise?
GA: Not at this time.
AF: Any plans to include non-UFC MMA merchandise?
GA: We are in discussions now with a few other properties for 2010.
January 28, 2009
As the popularity of MMA continues to show rapid growth, new and exciting opportunities are opening up for fighters all the time to expand their financial and business empires. One of the newest avenues for this is the wall decal company Wallfighters.
Wallfighters is launched as a division of Wowsportz, which specializes in personalized sports-related merchandise. The main focus up until now has been specialized items for teams on the club and local level but the company was looking to make a larger play. Enter Greg DeLong. Delong had prior experience in the MMA field, as host of his own MMA-related radio show Insidethecagetalk.com, and explained to the higher-ups at Wowsportz what a growth field MMA is the opportunities to be had. Delong did market research into the wall mounted vinyl decals, widely popularized by Fathead. DeLong saw an opportunity there for Wowsportz, as Fathead had expressed no interest in expanding beyond their core stick and ball sports. MMA was selected as Wowsportz’s first mass market play and the merchandise was dubbed Wallfighters, (http://www.wallfighters.com/).
Wallfighters has assembled a stable of fighters quickly with Urijah Faber, Scott Smith, Mark Munoz, Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez, James Irvin, Chael Sonnen, Brandon Vera, Diego Sanchez, and Tara LaRosa among those that have signed deals with the fledgling company. The main selling point of the company has been the ability “to make money while you are sitting at home”, which is enticing for those in such a grueling profession as MMA. Another reason fighters have been signing on has been the generous endorsement fee the fighter receives from the sale of each of his Wallfighter decals. DeLong stated, “We want to make money with the fighter, not off the fighter.” The Wallfighter deal along with similar deals like those of figurine maker Round 5 that provide an equitable sharing of profits is enticing to the fighter who is willing to take control of his own merchandising destiny.
Wallfighters has a good size stable of endorsers, but is still in the stage of bringing in athletes to endorse. The main strategy thus far has been to work with agents/managers to bring in the athletes. Clients of NCFC and MMA Fighter Management Inc (Urijah Faber’s Mgmt Team) have made up the bulk of the signees so far but talks with a wide range of camps are taking place as we speak and the roster of Wallfighters looks to be growing often.
Wallfighters will have two main vehicles of distribution initially. They will be sold through the company website, at Wallfighters.com, and also through the fighter’s and/or management company’s website store. Wallfighters’ branding efforts and the popularity of the fighter will both help to drive sales.
You can purchase your own Wallfighter by visiting their website
If you are a fighter/manager and would like more information on Wallfighters, or a member of the media and would like to do a piece on Wallfighters, please contact:
Director Of Marketing
WOW Sportz Wall Fighters
January 12, 2009
Round 5 MMA, the subject of a previous MMAPayout Industry Spotlight, is back at it again with another line-up of figurines that will be available for purchase this April.
Round 5, as many may recall, is starting to make a name for itself as a very fighter-friendly entity; paying its licensors 4-5 times the toy industry standard royalty fee.
Check out the release below:
MARKHAM, Ontario, Canada, January 12, 2009 – Mixed martial arts stars Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski, “Big John” McCarthy, Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira will be featured in Round 5’s Series 3 of mixed martial arts collectible figures, it was announced today by Round 5 C.E.O. Barron Lau and President Damon Lau. Series 3 figures are projected to be available at retail outlets throughout North America and online at www.Round5MMA.com beginning in April.
The Series 3 figurines follow successful launches of the first two series in April 2008 and November 2008, respectively, which featured eight MMA fan favorites. Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Tito Ortiz comprised Series 1 while Rich Franklin, Sean Sherk, Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva were released in Series 2.
“We are excited that four huge MMA standouts like Arlovski, McCarthy, Mir and Nogueira will be our partners in creating the next Series of Round 5 figurines,” said Damon Lau. “These are some of the biggest names in the sport today and we think fans will love to show their support of these great stars with a high-quality collectible on their desks.”
As in the earlier series, the four newest Round 5 stars maintain creative control of their likenesses, including the pose, facial design and shorts. Each will be instrumental in creating the final design and will benefit from a royalty agreement that gives them a considerable portion of the sale of their respective figurines.
Round 5 collectible figures may be purchased at leading retailers such as Toys ‘R’ Us, Champs Sports and FYE. Other retailers can be found at www.round5mma.com/wheretobuy.php.
Arlovski, the former UFC heavyweight champion, will next be competing in the highly-anticipated battle with Russian star Fedor Emelianenko on January 24 at the Affliction “Day of Reckoning” event in Anaheim, Calif. The Minsk, Belarus, native has a 14-5 career record, 10 of those by knockout. He has won five straight bouts, including all three of his 2008 fights.
McCarthy has been recognized as the pre-eminent MMA referee since the early days of the UFC. He has been in charge in more than 600 bouts worldwide and was one of the original authors of the MMA rules and regulations that are used today. His “larger than life” personality has also made him one of the most recognized and celebrated figures in the sport.
Mir is coming off the biggest win of his career, when he defeated Nogueira with a second-round TKO on Dec. 27 to win the UFC heavyweight title. He has persevered through devastating injuries, including a broken leg suffered in a motorcycle accident, to reach the pinnacle of the sport and looks forward to defending his crown. He earned additional attention as a coach in the recently concluded eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” television program on Spike TV.
Despite the loss to Mir, Nogueira remains one of the sport’s most legendary and popular athletes, particularly in his native Brazil. He first gained attention as one of the top stars in PRIDE and was also a coach in season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Mir. Of his 31 career victories – against just five defeats and one draw – 20 have come by submission.
Round 5 plans to release three additional series of athletes in 2009, one during each quarter. Athletes to be represented in those series are yet to be announced.
About Round 5
Round 5 (www.Round5MMA.com), headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Canada, is the MMA industry’s fastest growing worldwide collectible figure company. Committed to developing intricately detailed figures, Round 5 strives to remain true to the sport of MMA and its personalities.