New Balance calls on sports agent Rich Paul for latest product approval

Sports agent Rich Paul has spent years helping athletes like LeBron James secure sponsorship deals with big brands. Now he’s putting his own imprint on a product line.

New Balance Athletics Inc. used a top executive to customize and launch a shoe and apparel collection. The collaboration comes as the sportswear company, which describes itself as a challenger brand, aims to appeal to younger consumers and stand out amid a sea of ​​celebrity backing in sneaker companies.

“The collaboration industry has grown increasingly saturated, especially over the past 36 months,” said Chris Davis, New Balance chief marketing officer. “We have to take a different approach.

Rich Paul has grown in prominence in recent years due to its list of top clients and business ventures such as Klutch Sports Group.


Wilfredo Lee / Associated press

In the past, some consumers may have associated New Balance with “suburban daddy style,” Davis said. But in recent years, the company has revamped its marketing strategy to become more relevant to Millennials and Gen Z customers, he said.

Non-traditional collaborations played a disproportionate role in the strategy, including partnerships with rising fashion brands like Staud and Bandier as well as people who had never collaborated with any brand before, like actress Storm Reid and M Paul.

Traditional celebrity promotion deals still play a major role in the marketing of brands like Nike and Adidas. Nike’s lifetime deal with Mr. James is one of the most notable. But in recent years, marketers have also warmed up to the idea of ​​building relationships with social media influencers and YouTube creators.

“It couldn’t have been done five years ago,” Mr. Paul said of his New Balance contract. “CEOs and marketing directors of companies didn’t think the way they think now. “

Mr. Paul is Head of the Sports Division of United Talent Agency and Managing Director and Founder of Klutch Sports Group. UTA invested in Klutch Sports Group in 2019. He attributes the rise of non-traditional branding deals to the rise of social media, which has created an opportunity for people to express themselves and resonate with some. public.

“Before that, there was a very subjective view of who could actually market a product,” Mr. Paul said.

The new collection includes a custom design for the New Balance 550 Colorway shoe, as well as a clothing line featuring the New Balance logo and Mr. Paul’s initials. It will be sold on the New Balance website as well as the Klutch Shop e-commerce site starting December 10.

Mr. Paul will not be compensated for the collaboration, and any income from New Balance products sold on the Klutch site will be donated to charity, he said.

He is teaming up with New Balance to inspire young people and show them that they don’t need to be famous athletes or mainstream celebrities to be successful, Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul is one of a group of agents who have become famous in part because of their high profile clients, friends and connections, a group that also includes Maverick Carter and Scott Boras. Mr. Paul is currently in a relationship with musician Adele.

The company uses the sales figures of its limited-edition collaborations as a measure of success, but also assesses their impact on its brand by monitoring traffic to its website, media mentions and search rankings, Mr. Davis.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at [email protected]

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