Schutt Sports Re-Focuses Marketing and Branding Programs

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Schutt Sports forms new sports marketing and business development division.

What we have now is a team that is dedicated to their own stable of teams and schools

When Dave Rossi was approached about forming a Sports Marketing and Business Development Division at Schutt Sports, he knew it was the right direction for the company. Rossi, the Chief Marketing Officer, thought the company needed to focus on the massive marketing and re-branding programs the company had undertaken throughout 2007 and the formation of the new division was a welcome solution.

"The last 12 months have been as intense a time period as I've ever experienced," says Rossi. "We've re-branded the company with a new logo, new advertising, new packaging and new product branding. We've completely re-designed our web site and we're bringing in-house many of the marketing initiatives that had traditionally been given to agencies."

With the company committing so much to the re-branding of the company last year, many felt it was time to form a group that was focused primarily on the power of the Schutt brand.

"Our marketing team has done a tremendous job with the re-branding initiatives," says Robert Erb, CEO of Schutt. "But they split their time between the product side and the marketing side. We felt it was time to let them do what we needed them to do: tell our story and continue to build the Schutt brand."

Rossi, with over 20 years of sporting goods experience, heads up the new division. Rossi, who joined Schutt Sports in 2006, sees this new division as a chance for his team to increase the company's brand equity across the board.

"Since we formed this new division, we've been able to elevate our commitment to athletes both young and old," says Rossi. "We're going to work this summer with nearly 15,000 youth football players, their parents and coaches, trainers and equipment managers, as we sponsor and participate in nearly 100 off-season events, camps and clinics."

Schutt is a sponsor of both USA Football and the U.S. Army All-American Game. Both organizations put on an extensive lineup of camps and clinics during the spring and summer. Schutt also sponsors the Manning Passing Academy, featuring 1000+ high school players learning tips and techniques from Eli, Archie and Peyton Manning.

At the other end of the spectrum, the formation of the new Sports Marketing and Business Development Division will allow Schutt to throw even more resources at teams in the NFL® and major college programs.

"Before this division was formed, we basically had a small team of guys who traveled the country, calling on all of these elite teams and schools," says D.J. MacLean of Schutt Sports. With over 15 years of football experience with the company, MacLean knows a good thing when he sees it.

"What we have now is a team that is dedicated to their own stable of teams and schools," says MacLean. "They get to know their teams and the teams get to know them. We can better serve our customers because we're focused on them and give them the attention they need. We can get immediate feedback from them on our products - what they don't like as well as what they like - and we can adapt to any changes in the marketplace."

One change this group would like to make in the marketplace is increased marketshare at the NFL® level. Rossi makes no bones about it, that's one of the targets.

"Our research tells us we have about 30% of the players in the NFL® wearing our helmets and we're focused on bringing that up substantially in the next few months," says Rossi.

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, increased marketshare in the youth, high school and college ranks this year may just help boost the numbers in the NFL®. For the first two quarters of 2008, Schutt has experienced explosive growth in sales.

"Of course, our marketing efforts have played a big role in that," says Rossi. "But, we've also introduced two new football helmets in the last 12 months and our first line of truly professional level shoulder pads. We've also added great new products in baseball/softball, as well as collectibles. It's a lot easier to go out and grow the business when you have weapons like that."

The new division also brings on board six regional business development managers, whose time is spent getting more players wearing Schutt gear. And so far in 2008, they're having terrific success in doing it.

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Glenn Beckmann
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