When the Washington Wizards tip off their season Wednesday on the road against the Indiana Pacers, Wizards fans will see a new addition to the team’s jerseys this year, with the logo of trading platform Robinhood adorning the left shoulder of player uniforms as part of a new sponsorship announced this week.
“Monumental Sports overall is one of the more interesting properties given where it’s located,” Andrew Feinberg, Klutch Sports Group head of global partnerships, said in a phone interview. “It certainly made conversations with Robinhood and a few others along the way incredibly intriguing to hear some of the unique touch points you could create only in that market.”
More from Sportico.com
Klutch facilitated the deal between Wizards owners Monumental Sports and Entertainment and Robinhood on behalf of MSE, continuing a string of recent major sponsorship deals secured by the sports agency.
Rich Paul launched Klutch in 2012 with the biggest star in the sport, LeBron James, as his headline client. Today, Klutch represents four of the NBA’s 20 highest-paid players, and Paul’s clients’ contracts are worth $502 million this season, second among agents behind Excel Sport Management’s Jeff Schwartz, according to HoopsHype.
In 2020, the agency expanded beyond player representation to help teams with their sponsorships, starting with its core business of basketball. It added leagues and brands to the fold, and moved outside the NBA to include MLB, MLS, NHL and PFL. The agency has facilitated at least six jersey sponsorship deals over the last two years, including four in 2023, as well as more than two dozen sponsorships beyond jerseys.
The NBA launched its jersey patch program in time for the 2017-18 season, and it created a lucrative new asset for teams to tap; the NHL followed in 2022, with MLB teams unveiling jersey sleeve logos for the first time this year.
Big agencies including CAA, Sportfive, Excel and WME Sports have long had properties divisions to service brands and sports teams and leagues for their sponsorships. “The advantage of starting this from scratch was we were able to see what’s worked really well and what was successful throughout the few years leading up to when we started,” Feinberg said.
The first jersey deal Klutch brokered was announced in July 2021 for the Houston Rockets with fintech firm Credit Karma Money. COVID-19 presented challenges with travel and communication, and Feinberg said it was an “interesting time” on the brand side, but he adds, “We were able to use that as a launching pad for the group.”
In 2022, the Chicago Bulls signed Motorola as their jersey partner. This year, Klutch secured deals for the Utah Jazz (LiveView Technologies) and Milwaukee Brewers (Northwestern Mutual), in addition to the Wizards and a yet-to-be-announced agreement.
“Big 3” agency United Talent Agency invested in Klutch in 2019 and added Paul to its board. The two agencies launched UTA Sports, and six months ago, named Andrew Thau as co-head of the initiative with Paul. Feinberg has been able to call on UTA’s considerable resources to service his property sales division. He cites Caryn Rosoff, head of UTA’s sports and brand insights, as a key component to Klutch’s ability to service clients.
“You have to understand what the brand is trying to achieve,” Feinberg said. “Show it through data, information and technology and then build the story rooted from that.”
Best of Sportico.com