Pickleballing in Style

When we last covered pickleball, in 2019, it was just emerging as a licensing opportunity, with a number of leagues, governing bodies, collegiate teams, and sponsors signing their first licensing and endorsement deals. With pickleball continuing as the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., with average annual increases of 11.5% in participants over the past five years and 4.8 million people playing as of 2021, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, more and more licensors are getting involved with the sport.

One of the facets of that is the number of brand owners that have lent their names and graphics to pickleball paddles. Unlike tennis rackets, these have a flat surface akin to a ping-pong paddle and have become a canvas for imagery. The graphics include not just the logos and signatures of pickleball athletes and events, but also graphics from the worlds of design, lifestyle licensing, art, and more. Some of the property types that have been particularly active include:

  • Pro pickleball athletes. Franklin Sports offers signature paddles for J.W. Johnson, Jorja Johnson, Julie Johnson, and Christine McGrath; Joola has signed Ben Johns and Simone Jardim for a series of paddles; Gamma offers paddles for Riley Newman and Lindsey Newman; and Paddletek sells Catherine Parenteau paddles.
  • Design and lifestyle IP. Recess, a leader in lifestyle-related paddle collaborations, has deals with lifestyle brands Southern Tide and Sugar Paper, designer Leanne Ford, and retailer J. Crew, while Baddle has a line of rackets (along with covers and balls) with Vera Bradley. Wilson collaborated with Highsnobiety for pickleball paddles, along with a variety of other Highsnobiety Sports products.
  • Sports leagues and colleges. Baddle has agreements with the National Hockey League and Ohio State University, while Franklin Sports secured rights for National Football League paddles.
  • Art. Recess is a key player in this space, with recent limited-edition collaborations including artists Emily Eisenhart, Marleigh Culver, Will Bryant, and Codie O’Connor.
  • Other properties. A variety of other licensors have entered the pickleball paddle segment, ranging from the U.S. Army and Susan G. Komen Foundation, both with Baddle, to Offshoot Brewing’s Relax IPA, with Nettie.

Of course paddles are not the only way IP owners and other marketers are increasingly getting involved with pickleball. In a twist on the still-hot tenniscore trend, apparel companies are creating capsule collections of pickleball apparel for on and off the court. Along with its above-mentioned paddles, J. Crew launched a line of activewear suitable for the sport, while Alice + Olivia launched a capsule including cropped t-shirts; miniskirts and miniskorts; and tank tops, among other examples.

The list of promotional partnerships also continues to grow, with the Professional Pickleball Association teaming with Molson Coors, which become the exclusive alcoholic beverage provider of the PPA Tour, across a variety of its brands, led by Vizzy; USA Pickleball pairing with SHEFIT, making the latter the official sports bra partner of the organization; and Skechers becoming the official footwear of the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour, USA Pickleball, Major League Pickleball, and the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships.

, , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.