Picking Up the Pace

The governing bodies that oversee professional racing across a variety of vehicles and types, along with other racing-related properties, have been active on the consumer products front since the beginning of 2022. Many have signed new licensing deals (especially in gaming, toys, and collectibles), extended existing agreements, launched new product lines, retained new agents, and/or introduced new e-commerce ventures.

For instance:

  • This past Friday, GameMill Entertainment and NHRA released a trailer and date for their first video game under a licensing deal announced in May of 2021. The game, NHRA: Speed for All, will debut on August 26, 2022 for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and PC platforms. The drag racing organization is represented for licensing by JRL Group, which has signed other deals for the brand in apparel, accessories, automotive tools, and home and garage décor, among others. In early June, NHRA and JRL announced an agreement with The Fan Brand for lighted wall signs, billiard lights, and wall décor.
  • Dorna Sports, the owner of the MotoGP motorcycle road racing brand, entered into a strategic partnership with Fanatics, announced this month. The deal gives Fanatics exclusive global e-commerce rights as well as the license to create MotoGP apparel. The revamped MotoGP store is launching in six different languages.
  • Cigarette Racing Team, the leading brand of luxury high-performance powerboats used in offshore racing, retained Surge Brands as its licensing agency in a deal announced on June 15. Plans include high-end apparel, fragrance, swimwear, watches, jewelry, eyewear, and spirits, among other categories. Cigarette Racing Team is the sponsor of the RWO Offshore World Championships, as part of a broader relationship with Race World Offshore, the leading offshore racing series.
  • Formula 1 has increased its presence in collectibles this year, announcing deals with Mighty Jakks in April and Funko in March. The deals called for Mighty Jakks to sell eight-inch stylized vinyl figures of 20 drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, and Funko to create Pop! vinyls for its Pop-in-A-Box program featuring drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. CAA Brand Management represents Formula 1, which reported in May that the U.S. had become the top territory for sales on its online store for the first time this year. Observers credit the increased popularity in the region at least in part to the sport’s presence on Netflix.
  • Hoonigan, a racing-related video franchise launched by American Rally Association racer Ken Block, with more than 1 billion views, named Flybar as its master toy licensee in May. The line, which will debut at retail in spring 2023, is set to include radio-control vehicles, ride-ons, and playsets. The Brand Liaison, which handles licensing for Hoonigan’s Hoonigan, Gymkhana, Climbkhana, and Terrakhana brands, brokered the deal.
  • Jockey Club, the U.K. commercial horse-racing organization, signed a five-year product development deal with Playtech, announced in February. The partners are creating gambling content, including live casino, poker, virtual sports, and bingo games, based on Jockey Club’s races and courses.
  • Formula E, a single-seater championship series involving electric cars, paired with stichd, a division of the Puma SE Group, in April. The long-term licensed product and retail partnership encompasses new sustainable product collections (apparel, accessories, fan items) for the championships and teams, a new e-commerce site, and new trackside retail stores. In February, Formula E partnered with Kimoa for a line of Formula E-branded sustainable sunglasses in two styles.
  • NASCAR said in April that it was licensing Playseat for racing simulators and gaming seats to give fans and gamers a more authentic driver experience. Playseat also makes gaming chairs for two Formula 1 teams. Separately, NASCAR announced in February that it was partnering with e-sports team FaZe Clan for a limited-edition merchandise capsule consisting of a hat, t-shirt, and hoodie. Designed by streetwear designer Blazzy, who has collaborated with FaZe Clan on other collections, the products were sold on site at the Busch Light “Clash at the Coliseum” race in Los Angeles. Like other racing organizations, NASCAR has been strengthening its ties with gaming and especially e-sports as a way to bring in new young fans.

It should be noted that these recent initiatives represent just a handful of the racing bodies and other racing-related entities (teams, drivers, car brands, content producers) that are involved in the licensing business to various degrees.

The newest edition of the Raugust Communications monthly e-newsletter comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. The Licensing Topic of the Month focuses on the proliferation of social-emotional content and messaging, across property types and product categories, while the Datapoint research spotlight analyzes the business models used by celebrities for their licensing and brand-extension activities. If you have not yet signed up for this free publication, you can subscribe here.

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