Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

BAT's Strike Endorsement Model Working


Last year, I wrote a story about a company called Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT). It’s a company that basically does what sports marketers do –- match athletes with brands.

An example of BAT's endorsement match ups, McDonalds and New York Yankees' catcher Jorge Posada.

Unlike sports marketing firms, which only have permission work with a small number of athletes, BAT has a huge roster (now up to 3,600), and can pair an athlete and a company in an Internet campaign within a couple days.

For the athletes, it’s some of the easiest money that they can make. Many of the deals are just for use of their picture and as long as they approve of the company, they never have to devote any time to the endorsement.

From what I understand, many of the deals aren’t for big money, but the company has certainly been helped out by the economy as companies want to do cheaper deals with a shorter term investment in an athlete and athletes are willing to take less cash.

Today, Brand Affinity Technologies announced it received $20 million in funding from a group of firms led by Miramar Venture Partners. As part of the announcement, the private company revealed that it is expected to double its year-over-year revenues to $30 million this year, with the athlete roster up 177 percent.

I think the ultimate deal BAT did was with Drew Brees and 1-800-Flowers. The flower retailer signed the New Orleans Saints quarterback to a two-week online deal for the rights to use his image on Feb. 1. A week later, 1-800-Flowers was still using Brees when he won the Super Bowl.

With the Internet growing by the minute, one has to wonder what BAT’s quick strike model will do to traditional sports marketing agencies. Will those agencies lock their athletes out of participating with BAT? With big financial backing, and the efficiency it offers, will some athletes — who might be on the BAT list but are still cutting in their agency on the deal — no longer feel the need to have a sports marketing agency?

With the new money coming in, those questions are now valid, and probably scary to anyone in the sports marketing space.

Questions?  Comments?