As it Battles Beats, JBL Inks First NBA Player Endorsement
By E.J. Schultz
JBL has found its point guard as it takes on Beats in the sports-endorsement game. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will become a "brand ambassador" for the Harman International-owned audio brand as part of a new deal.
Mr. Lillard is the first player signed by Harman since the company inked a multiyear sponsorship with the NBA last year that made it the league's official headphone, speaker and audio partner. The first-of-its-kind pact marked a significant move by the company to gain some sports credibility in a category dominated by Beats by Dre.
Harman did not disclose the terms of its deal with Mr. Lillard, other than to say it was a multi-year agreement. The pact was negotiated separately from the NBA sponsorship and will likely to be followed by more player deals. Harman wants a "portfolio of players" so "we can really be integrated and authentic to the sport," said Harman Chief Marketing Officer Ralph Santana.
JBL will consider using Mr. Lillard in TV ads and for marketing events, including in-store appearances and business-to-business gatherings. He might also assist with product development, Mr. Santana said.
Sports marketing has emerged as a valuable tool for image-conscious electronics brands. Headphones are "the new sneaker," said Ben Arnold, who covers consumer electronics for market research group NPD. "You see players walking to the arena from the bus -- they all have headphones," he said. And "a lot of those headphones are Beats." So "I think it makes sense for companies like JBL get a larger presence on these players," he added.
The potential power of player endorsements was on display Friday when Mr. Lillard touted his new JBL deal to his more than 1 million Instagram followers. He posted a photo that showed him giving away free JBL headphones to his teammates as they get ready for the NBA Playoffs.
This article was brought to you by Licensed NBA & NFL Player Agent Andrew P. Lehman, J.D. and Free Agent Sports, the Nation's Leading Provider of Athlete Endorsement Services, with Offices in Los Angeles, CA and Houston, TX. FAS saw the need for more aggressive action on behalf of agents for athletes to obtain brand endorsements and took this industry by storm. It is our background as Corporate Executives and inside relationships with CEO's that gives us the competitive edge over all other sports agencies. Our philosophy is to present business-to-business opportunities for players to sustain them long after their playing career is over. FAS is an Attorney owned and operated Sports Agency representing Professional Basketball and Football Players in the US and Abroad. "While it is true that good things come to those that wait, it is only those things left over by those that hustle." Andrew P. Lehman, J.D. Licensed Player Agent & Entrepreneur. www.freeagentsports.com
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