The National Basketball Players Association has launched a new brand management arm, Think450, to help boost the marketing value of the league’s 450 active players. The move comes thanks to a major shift in its collective bargaining agreement with the NBA.
Last year, the National Basketball Players Association scored an important shift in its collective bargaining agreement with the league—and the benefits of that approach are just starting to show themselves.
Ahead of the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, the year’s biggest showcase of both the league and its individual players, news is breaking out about Think450, the NBPA’s new marketing rights group. The endeavor was made possible after NBPA reacquired player brand management rights from the NBA a year ago—something the players association effectively loaned out to the league for two decades.
But while the NBA has a number of valuable active players—450, to be exact, hence Think450’s name—there’s plenty of evidence that the investment wasn’t being maximized. For example, the NFL Players Association has moved in interesting directions with its player licenses, including launching a startup accelerator in 2016.
The NFL operates a $160 million-a-year business based on player licenses alone; per Fast Company, NBPA was getting a quarter of that from the league in the final year of their prior agreement.
With Think450, NBPA is basically reframing the model to market the league’s players to brands, according to the subsidiary’s president, Jordan Schlachter.
“We talked about what was important to our players and how we think about this business, and how we communicate it to the business community when we go out to the marketplace,” Schlachter told Fast Company. “We were bouncing around words, and we just said, ‘We need to think about all 450 of our players.’ That’s when it clicked.”
The organization has already teamed with brands like Lamborghini, and the licensing business offers a lot of potential flexibility—basically, the NBPA covers all licensing rights for players when they’re not in a uniform—which could help the players union as it looks to maximize its sizable investment.
“There are so many personalities in our league that I think the sky’s the limit in terms of how guys want to make an impact,” said Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets star who serves as NBPA’s president, in Fast Company. “It’s about making sure every player has a chance to take advantage of the opportunities in and out of the game.”