In the mid 1980’s, Sports Advertising Associates, Inc., was the first company to own an NBA Players’ Association apparel and properties licensee program. We developed licensee programs for the Chicago Bear’s Walter Payton, an NFL, and top running backs. Then with the strong support from Jeff Twist, the Boston Celtics’ P.R. director, Sports Advertising Associates’ “Likeness-Caricature with slogan,” obtained the rights to the NBA’s Magic Johnson, Julius Irving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Bernard King, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and many of the NBA players.
The “Likeness-Caricature,” program was conceptualized and developed to combat negative drug abuse images among NBA ball players and get these players more marketable for the retail market. The slogans were a way to give some personality, creativity and individualism to the players such as “Its Not Luck its Magic”, “Larry Bird-Shootist Maximus”, “Kareem Wrote the Book ,On the Skyhook”, “Jordan is Bullish on Chicago”, “Bustin Barkley”. By Developing the multi-color likeness/caricature with slogan design program for professional sports- it became a totally unique concept in the sports branding, marketing, advertising, endorsement, design and apparel industries.
We were able to secure these licensing rights with the National Players Association and with NBA properties. We negotiated licensing and distribution agreements for this program with manufacturers (Fun Wear Inc.) We also presented to the NBA Properties and SFX Entertainment the opportunity and idea to market professional players along side cartoon characters “Bugs Bunny”, “Donald Duck”, and “Looney Tunes” in which our sub-license partner Fun Wear had apparel rights.
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