Ajax and adidas channel Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds in new tribute kit

The Bob Marley family has teamed up with Ajax and adidas to release the 2021/2022 Ajax third kit, a tribute to its fans and a shared love for the reggae legend Bob Marley and the iconic song Three Little Birds.

Developed in collaboration with the family, the black kit features red, yellow, and green details, while on the back of the jersey, just below the collar, is a subtle reference to the iconic song with three little birds sitting on Amsterdam’s Andreas crosses. The kit will be worn in this season’s European matches, alongside Ajax’s home kit.

For over a decade, Ajax has had a strong tie to the Bob Marley song, Three Little Birds that started in August 2008 when the team played a friendly match in Cardiff against Cardiff City FC. The Ajax fans were asked to remain in the stands after the game. To keep them entertained, the stadium DJ played several tracks, one of which was Three Little Birds.

The song has since been embraced by Ajax fans who now sing it at every game, regardless of the score of the game.

Bob Marley is often remembered as an active and dedicated fan of football, a point that, according to the family of the reggae legend, makes the collaboration and the collective love for his music form Ajax fans particularly poignant.

“I am beyond touched that Ajax has taken Three Little Birds and made it their anthem. Stories like this warm my heart and show how impactful songs like Three Little Birds can be. Soccer was everything to my father…and to use his words ‘football is freedom’” said Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley.

The kit features a jersey, shorts and socks. On the socks, Amsterdam’s Andreas crosses are prominently highlighted. The range also includes a track top, track pant, sweater, t-shirt and Samba footwear. Samba footwear originates from football but has become a global fashion icon in its own right. With stripes in red, yellow and green, the footwear also features the Ajax crest on the tongue of the shoe and the three little birds on Amsterdam’s Andreas crosses on the heel tab.

All product is available from August 20 onwards, and available on ajax.nl/shopadidas.com, in Official Ajax Fanshops (ArenA, Kalverstraat and Bataviastad) and through selected retailers around the world.

TSBA Group signs five year deal with American Golf to launch new range inspired by The Open

The TSBA Group has singed a five year partnership with American Golf to design and exclusively retail an officially licensed range of products inspired by The Open.

The core product range will include apparel – designed under American Golf’s Stromberg label – for men, women and children including polos, shorts, trousers, and waterproofs, as well as high-tech golfing accessories and equipment including tees, golf bags, luggage, and trolleys.

The range will officially launch in 2022, coinciding with The 150th Open and will feature designs celebrating the milestone in the Championship’s history. Since The R&A held the first tournament in 1860, The Open has seen more than 120 golfers lift the coveted Claret Jug after facing the challenges of The Open’s links courses.

The official range will be available exclusively via American Golf’s 96 stores across the UK and Republic of Ireland, along with its online store, and has been designed to appeal to golfers at every level.

Jo Edwards, head of global licensing at TSBA Group said: “We are delighted to have secured this long-term partnership between American Golf and The R&A. One of the key objectives of the licensing programme is to make The Open accessible to all, 365 days of the year; American Golf’s significant retail presence will help us in this goal with a range of The Open apparel, accessories and equipment for every golfer.”

Gary Favell, CEO at American Golf, added: “Partnering with The R&A on a new range of apparel, accessories and equipment for The Open is incredibly meaningful for us. 

“This range will provide golfers of every level with the kit intended to make them feel like they’re stepping out to play at the Open Championship – affordable without compromising on quality, we will ensure that we are behind every golfer.”

St Andrews Links appoints The Point. 1888 as it looks to take on apparel, toys, beverages, and more

St Andrews Links has selected The Point. 1888 as its brand extension partner, adding to the firm’s growing roster of Sports brands that now encompasses the likes of Williams Racing, Team GB, and the British and Irish Lions.

A veteran in the world of brand licensing, having worked with Hannah Stevens previously when she worked at CPLG, St Andrews Links (SAL) has made the most of its iconic courses and the world’s love of golf to build awareness as far afield as Korea and Japan.

With seven courses spanning nearly 1,000 acres, SAL is at the top of every golfer’s wish list. More than 230,000 rounds of golf are played on the courses every year by golf fans flocking from all over the world.

By appointing The Point.1888, it is seeking to ramp up its brand licensing activity, going beyond the golf accessories and gifting markets to new categories that will offer its loyal and older demographic, as well as younger generations across the world, a small piece of 600 years of history.

Keen to explore fashion apparel, homeware, stationery, personal care, toys and games, as well as alcoholic beverages and confectionary, SAL is looking to develop product ranges that capture the heritage and tradition of the links while still bringing a feeling of fun and timeless style that lasts and endures.

The Point. 1888 will look to drive awareness ahead of The Open, the biggest golfing competition in the calendar, which will be returning to St Andrews in 2022 for the 150th anniversary of the tournament and the 30th time it will have been played at SAL.

Hannah Stevens, head of retail and sport at The Point.1888, said: “With The Point.1888, St Andrews Links knew they were getting an agency with an unconventional approach who really understands their unique high end brand and knows how to find the best opportunities at retail. We’re really excited about the collaborations that we can work on together.

“St Andrews Links creates such an opportunity with the popularity of golf skyrocketing among younger demographics, but also because we pride ourselves on working with brands with purpose. The Links’ values mean they take real pride in being active and supporting members in the community, for instance their fantastic junior golf programme, which gives free golf to children in the town.”

Danny Campbell, commercial director of SAL, added: “We have more than 600 years of history and our brand reflects golf’s values of integrity, collaboration and the pursuit of excellence. We had to make sure that the agency we chose shared those values and could match our ambition with their ideas, creativity, experience and passion. I know we’re in very good hands.”

Stateside | US toy firm on mission to lift women’s sports with first talking plush sports stars

An American toy company is on a mission to not only change the face of sports toys but also the narrative around women’s sports with the launch of a new series of talking plush toys dedicated to some of the country’s biggest names in the genre.

Sports Bigs has made no secret of its desire to disrupt the $1.25 billion US plush toy industry with a new host of celebrity-inspired plush toys, celebrating only women’s sports. It’s part of the firm’s bigger plan to ‘reveal the true potential of the marketability of women sports stars.’

“In the past, if you were an athlete in girls’ and women’s sports, you didn’t have many visible role models. And you certainly didn’t have a talking sports action toy that encouraged you to use your own power and voice while training like a pro athlete,” said founder Pam Kosanke, a six-time competitor in world championships across three different sports, who is also a mom and a professional marketer.

“This changes all that, and so much more.”

Sport Bigs has teamed up with three of America’s biggest women’s sports legends, including five-time WNBA champion, basketball all-star and current Minnesota Lynx assistant coach Rebekkah Brunson; professional football legend and current football commentator and analyst Lori Lindsey; and four-time world champion, multi-gold medalist and current UCLA softball head coach Lisa Fernandez.

Through their partnerships, each have provided their likenesses and voices to the first round of Sport Bigs. Over time, the plan is to build out the roster to include more women’s sports personalities over time.

“When I think about the 25th anniversary of the WNBA, I can’t help but think about how long the league has been around, but also how young it is,” said Brunson.

“Now that I’m in a position to inspire young girls and empower them to be their authentic selves, I wish that I’d had something that represented me when I was a child – something that I could play with that showed strength and power, and wasn’t packaged as male.

“Sport Bigs are so exciting because they fill that space. They inspire young girls and allow young people to imagine strong, powerful women who dream of what they can be, and what the world should look like. They’re about being big, speaking big, acting big and living big.”

To support its bigger goals around changing the women’s sports landscape, Sport Bigs will funnel portions of proceeds from the toys into women’s sport sponsorships, athlete compensation and additional grassroots efforts.

“As a kid, I was starved for trading cards, memorabilia or toys that looked like me,” said Kosanke. “Today you have a few special-edition toys – used as one-off stunts – that come across as wimpy and barely marketed. Nothing really comes close to respecting the breadth of sizes, shapes and big-time attitudes of real athletes in women’s sports.

“This toy line is a first in the market and necessary for all ages to truly celebrate big athlete identities in women’s sports.”

24 Hours of Le Mans renews IMG partnership to build 2023 Centenary licensing programme

The world’s oldest active sports car endurance race, 24 Hours of Le Mans is eyeing a new move into the toys, games, and collectables space as the prestigious annual event nears its 100th anniversary in 2023.

Under the renewal of its longstanding licensing representation agreement with IMG, the brand owner, Automobil Club de l’Quest is looking to develop further licensing opportunities for the event, building on its portfolio of some 80 strong licensees already in place.

Amid the plans for an extended licensing programme for the event that has been held annually near Le Mans in France since 1923, ACO is looking to take the 24 Hours of Le Mans brand into the toys, games, and collectables aisles, as well as apparel, homeware, and accessories.

The renewed licensing agreement will see IMG lead the licensing charge through to 2024.

With the return of major manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Audi and Peugeot, the ACO and IMG will be looking to add even more new renowned partners to the 24 Hours of Le Mans licensing programme.

Stéphane Andriolo, customer and events director, ACO, said: “The renewal of our agreement with IMG is in line with our global licensing strategy. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is now focused on the Centenary of its iconic race in 2023. More than ever, our goal is to make the 24 Hours of Le Mans brand shine throughout the entire year and expanding our global footprint in all territories.”

Arthur Virapin, senior licensing manager, IMG, added: “We are proud that the ACO has once again entrusted us with the 24 Hours of Le Mans consumer licensing programme. In the last four years alone, together we have doubled the size of the race’s licensing portfolio, showing that almost 100 years since being established, its popularity and prestige is as strong as ever.

“As we start to rev up for the milestone centenary race in 2023, we look forward to further developing the programme into new and existing key categories and expanding 24 Hours of Le Mans’ presence globally.”

The British & Irish Lions signs new deal with mouthguard specialist OPRO

The British & Irish Lions has signed a new licensing partnership with the world’s largest mouthguard manufacturer, OPRO, marking one of a number new licensing deals secured for the brand by The Point. 1888.

A product licensing programme for the British & Irish Lions is now well underway, created to tap into the demand for the sport ahead of the Castle Lager Lions Series in South Africa against the Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.

The new partnership grants OPRO the rights to produce Lions-branded mouthguards available for purchase through its network of global retailers.

The relationship also sees all players selected in the Lions squad provided with OPRO’s, award winning, custom-fit mouthguards. OPRO is the official mouthguard partner of more than 85 teams and associations across the world, including England Rugby, Rugby Australia, New Zealand Rugby and 11 Gallagher Premiership clubs.

“We are delighted to welcome OPRO to our family of licensees,” said Tom Halsey, British & Irish Lions commercial director.

“OPRO’s pioneering approach to mouthguard technology and player welfare sets it apart from any competitor. We look forward to another successful partnership with them.”

Daniel Lovat, sports marketing director for OPRO, added: “It’s a huge privilege to once again be partnered with the Lions and we also thanks The Point. 1888 for their fantastic support.

“We’re excited to launch the range of Lions-branded mouthguards alongside our retail partners and also support the squad during the Tour, ensuring they’ve the very best protection for their teeth.”

OPRO is the latest in a list of recent Lions’ license deals secured by The Point.1888, which include Reach Publishing for a Lions pre-Tour magazine, Tour guide, and bookazine, Super Socks for a range of Lions-branded personalised socks and cushions, and Disrupt Sport who will create a portfolio of print on demand Lions products includng posters, stickers, puzzles, wallets, phone cases and bumbags.

“We are delighted to be working with these new partners to support what is set to be an incredible few months for the Lions in South Africa. With some very varied partners on board, we are thrilled to be appealing to so many fans across the entire family, as well as supporting the team whilst they play,” said Hannah Stevens, head of retail at The Point. 1888.

FC Bayern Munich on path to revolutionise souvenir photos with AR and AI tech partnership

With the opening of its new flagship store in central Munich, FC Bayern Munich is offering its fans a unique experience to have photos taken with its players at anytime, thanks to a partnership with the German virtual tech specialist, Sensape.

Under the partnership, the pair are setting out to redefine souvenir photos as the football club expands it Augmented Reality activities to offer store visitors the chance to take photos with their players through the use of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality technology.

Players and fans will be able to interact in real-time via the store’s photo screen where a realistic souvenir photo can then be taken. The project is the first permanent installation of its kind in Europe.

“Meeting players in person is a rare occurrence and not granted to many people anyway. Since the spread of Covid-19, personal contact is no longer possible. With this project, we are bringing a technology to Europe that allows anyone to take a photo with the players at any time, as it is not tied to a specific date. The photo even comes signed to the fan and makes the whole experience even more special,” said Sensape’s Michael Lehnert.

The AR technology has been developed at Sensape’s headquarters in Leipzig, Germany. The intelligent system recognizes as soon as a fan stands in front of the device and starts the AR application. After players pose virtually in the picture, fans can position themselves in the middle and a photo is taken. An intelligent rendering system automatically adjusts the exposure and proportions to the fan and the environment, creating a photo-realistic image.

The result can be downloaded to the user’s own smartphone via QR code and shared with friends and on social media channels at the touch of a button.

A similar procedure will soon be used in the Member Corner, where fans can sign their membership contract in the presence of club president Herbert Hainer and honorary president Uli Hoeneß and seal it with a photo.

WildBrain CPLG signs Middle East and North Africa deals for Arsenal, FC Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, and Man City

 WildBrain CPLG has inked a wave of pan-regional deals in Middle East and North Africa on behalf of the European football clubs the agency represents in the market: Arsenal, FC Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool FC, and Manchester City.

For Arsenal, FC Barcelona and Manchester City, WildBrain CPLG has secured a direct-to-retail licensing deal with the fashion retailer RIVA that will see a line of apparel and accessories hit stores across the region.

Meanwhile, Andy Enterprises is now on board for an apparel and accessories range across Arsenal and Liverpool FC; Trucare is launching bedding and homewares across FC Barcelona and Manchester City; and ESAL is creating footballs for FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC.

Further partners secured include Hollywood Magic for FC Barcelona and Manchester City apparel ranges, and Sun CE for back-to-school products across all five clubs.

Roberto Pallottini, licensing manager at WildBrain CPLG MENA, said: “Football continues to be the most popular sport across the Middle East and North Africa and is also a significant trend at retail.

“We are proud to welcome these partners to the local licensing programmes for these internationally renowned European football clubs and to create lifestyle-focused products for the brands in the region.”

Poetic Brands signs FIFA for spring/summer apparel collection

The apparel licensee, Poetic Brands, has added the international governing body of football, FIFA, to its portfolio of brands with the launch of a new range of FIFA themed clothing. The range will capitalise on the body’s historical marques and logos, the kind of which have been recognised worldwide for more than 100 years.

The Poetic Brands collection will feature t-shirts, sweatshirts, and nightwear and will launch into the UK with retailers stocking ranges from spring/summer 2021.

Founded in 1904, FIFA is the umbrella organisation of its members, currently 211 national football associations. Its objectives include developing football around the world, staging international competitions, and ensuring that the game of football is available to all who wish to participate. 

The member associations of FIFA take part in the FIFA World Cup every four years, with the next edition taking place in 2022, providing a key selling point after the launch of the clothing line.

“Together with Poetic Brands, we’ll be bringing new energy to FIFA’s beloved historical emblems,” said FIFA head of licensing and retail, Sarah Bohner. “We look forward to helping fans relive and celebrate their favourite tournaments through unique, creative designs.”

Elliott Matthews, executive director of Poetic Brands, added: “We are really excited to be adding FIFA to our portfolio of properties. The brand is instantly recognisable not only to football fans, but to the vast majority of consumers. We are sure the collection will reach fans of the game throughout the UK and prove popular with supporters of all clubs.”

Female fitness channel Blogilates launches first signature sporting goods through Semaphore Licensing partnership

The female fitness YouTube channel, Blogilates has developed its first line if signature sporting goods in partnership with the US retail giant Target in the brand’s first foray into licensing. The partnership was brokered by the channel’s rights and merchandising agency, Semaphore Licensing Solutions.

Semaphore Licensing is continuing to create opportunities for its ‘new media’ brands to expand their reach within the retail world. The Blogilates deal follows from the previously detailed licensing expansion for the YouTube skateboarding channel, Braille Skateboarding in deals that took the brand into toys and recently into footwear.

Blogilates is recognised as the leading female fitness channel on YouTube with over 812 million lifetime views and 5.36 million subscribers. The channel features full-length POP Pilates, HIIT, and total body sculpting workouts that can all be done at home, led by certified Pilates an fitness instructor, and the CEO and founder of Blogilates, Cassey Ho.

The brand’s extended reach currently engages nearly 11 million wellness loving fans across several other social platforms, including 2.1 million TikTok followers and 1.9 million Instagram followers.

The licensing opportunity with Target will allow Blogilates to bring stylish sporting good essentials into the hands of consumers who value quality fitness equipment, as at home workouts become the new normal. The line of products that will be available via Target stores and Target.com will include items such as luxurious vegan suede yoga mats, beautiful gold dumbbells, and blush toned resistance bands.

Our goal is to create licensing opportunities that connect consumers with their favorite brands via retailers they trust,”said Lisa Berlin Wright, senior vice president of licensing, Semaphore Licensing Solutions

“Target understands the emotional connection that new media stars have with their audience. We are thrilled to be elevating the at home fitness experience through high-quality products at accessible price points for consumers nationwide,” added Michael Bienstock, founder and CEO, Semaphore Licensing Solutions.