Boston Celtics Struggles Don’t Worry Vistaprint Jersey Patch Partner

Boston Celtics goalie Kemba Walker (8) was fouled by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) during an NBA regular season game on May 9, 2021 at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

Matthew J. Lee | Boston Globe | Getty Images

Design and marketing company Vistaprint made its first major investment in professional sports in 2020, and now one of the National Basketball Association‘s most iconic franchises must fulfill its role.

The Boston Celtics have been struggling lately, falling to clubs such as the Oklahoma City Thunder Draft, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. And on Monday, the Celtics suffered another loss after announcing star forward Jaylen Brown would miss the rest of the season with a left wrist injury.

At 35-33, the team are seventh in the Eastern Conference and are now on the verge of dropping their seventh straight playoff spot as the NBA enters the final week of the regular season. This season, the NBA has mandated the seeds seven to ten to participate in play-in games to determine the placement in the playoffs. The games pair the bottom seeds together to pick the last two places in the playoffs.

If the Celtics remain seventh and lose two play-in games, the club will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Ricky Engelberg, Vistaprint’s chief marketing officer, said he was “optimistic” that it won’t, however.

“The Celtics will always be the Celtics,” Engelberg said. “It would be amazing if they set off on a multi-year run with multiple championships and deep playoffs. But the Celtics are the Celtics and one of the most iconic sports franchises in the world.”

Semi Ojeleye # 37 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball during the game against the Orlando Magic on May 5, 2021 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

Fernando Medina | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Vistaprint television exposure risk

The NBA generated around $ 150 million in revenue from its patch program, which was introduced for the 2017-18 season. The program allows companies to pay to put their logo on a patch on the shoulder of each player’s jersey.

Businesses that buy an NBA team patch look for the brand awareness achieved when teams play domestic games on ESPN or TNT, the league’s top media partners. So when a club makes the playoffs, it helps the patch gain value.

Therefore, if the Celtics miss the playoffs, their partnership with Vistaprint for jersey patches takes a hit as the company loses the brand’s increased visibility.

Vistaprint tapped Excel Sports agency to strike a deal with the Celtics in November 2020, taking over General Electric’s jersey patch slot. Due to a nondisclosure agreement in place, financial details of the pact have not been provided, but Vistaprint is estimated to pay between $ 10 million and $ 15 million a year for the rights, according to industry insiders. GE paid around $ 7 million a year in its deal with the Celtics.

Like most patch offerings, this deal includes Vistaprint signage at TD Garden, the Celtics’ home arena, and brand presentations across the team’s G League and team esports.

Engelberg, a former Nike executive, said the decision to enter the partnership was in part due to the Celtics’ status in professional sports. But the scope of the team patch was probably also taken into account. According to Sports Business Journal, the GE patch on Celtics jerseys was one of the most recognizable patches among NBA clubs.

“They’ve gained so much capital as a franchise over the years,” Engelberg said. “But as important as the playoffs are, finding a franchise where every game counts was just as important.”

Owned by Irish customization company Cimpress, Vistaprint specializes in creating logos, campaign banners and web design for small businesses. On its website, the company says it has annual sales of more than $ 1.4 billion.

Engelberg said that one of the initiatives included in the Celtics deal increases the visibility of small business customers in the Boston area, so Vistaprint is giving a portion of its arena signage inventory to businesses for games that are not nationally televised.

“Our inventory is their inventory. Our partnership is their partnership,” Engelberg said. “It’s not just about logo placement. But from a 360 point of view, how could we partner up where it’s us, the Celtics and small businesses to create this truly unique moment to highlight the main customer we partner with so much. “

Help black businesses

Last week, the company also activated another campaign to help black businesses. He teamed up with Celtics goalie Kemba Walker to auction off a signed Panini collectible card and autographed sneakers worn by the game in Sunday’s 130-124 loss to the Heat. The auction ends Wednesday and all proceeds will go to a grant program that awards $ 25,000 to black businesses in Boston.

The Celtics and Vistaprint have committed $ 1 million to the program, and Walker will also donate his undisclosed partnership fees.

“It’s great to have someone like Kemba who wants to be able to share his light with people across the community,” Engelberg said, reiterating that the company is focusing more on the long-term vision of the Celtics patch deal.

“Almost a season with the Celtics, we are delighted with how this year has gone. And we have just as many exciting things going forward that we want to try to achieve,” said Engelberg.

Cimpress has a market capitalization of $ 2.5 billion. Its stock trades on the Nasdaq and fell 3% on Monday, closing at $ 98.39 per share.

This story has been updated to reflect Jaylen Brown’s injury.

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