The 2014 sports MBA cohort got a taste of what the Case Competition is going to be like next year (minus the 24-hour work window, for most groups at least) as today we presented our findings for a licensing and marketing plan for the new USFL as the culminating project for our licensing class.
The cohort was divided into four groups to pitch USFL CEO Jim Bailey as well as licensing professor/industry expert Dan Bruton on a comprehensive plan for the league to adopt when it makes a comeback as a full-fledged Minor League football league in the spring of 2014.
In our assignment, we were told that the league will follow the single entity model and is designed to give players “the opportunity to develop and refine their football skills” as they aim to make it to the NFL. In addition, the league is “well supported by legal, financial and general business expertise” but “is lacking in experience in licensing and merchandising its licensed products.”
This provided our class the incredible opportunity to not only learn how to put a licensing project together but to do it for a fledgling sports property in which we can actually make a difference, a rare opportunity for MBAs anywhere.
In my opinion, our class was up to the test with our best collective series of projects of the year thus far.
My group focused on a color theme in which we aimed to match colors of major colleges in cities without an NFL team in the vicinity with colors for a new USFL team; the scarlet and gray of Ohio State served as our prime example for a potential team in Columbus. We explained the importance of colors in creating a brand association and then recommended licensing with emerging companies that have yet to reach the status of market leaders, such as Puma.
Another group focused on an online distribution system in order to spread their product to the greatest amount of fans. In addition, two groups utilized the winning idea from the SMBA ’13 case competition winners of a mobile van to sell merchandise at the stadium and at various spots around the city.
All groups also discussed the basics of licensing contracts that we learned over the course of the class, including the need for a royalty (usually about 10 percent of licensee net sales), a minimum guarantee (usually 10-12 percent of sales projections) and an advance (usually 1/3 to 1/2 of the minimum guarantee). In this way we were able to transfer our knowledge in this subject area to the leader of the new USFL.
The class as a whole seemed to have a little extra juice today knowing that our humble ideas could make a difference in the real life USFL’s licensing and marketing plan.