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Big Score: Mission Athletecare Named The 2012 Sports Marketer Of The Year

By The Staff Of NYSportsJournalism.com

January 11, 2013: Based on voting by readers of NYSportsJournalism, Mission Athletecare has been named the Sports Marketer of the Year for 2012.

When it comes to sports and marketing, a lot of companies use a lot of athletes to endorse a lot of products.

But when it comes to using athletes in the research and development of those products — and also getting athletes to become partners in the company itself — New York-based Mission Athletecare plays on a special field of dreams.

Mission Athletecare has more than two dozen products in such areas as muscle care, foot care, anti-chafe, sunscreen and a new category they created, grip enhancement, all developed in conjunction with the athletes who not only inspired their creation and now use and endorse them, but also have a vested interest in the company itself. They are, as Mission Athletecare founder and president Josh Shaw calls them, "equity partners."

"The key for us is that it is always a team effort. There is not one person who we can say, 'That is the person who did it.' It really is a collective effort," said Josh Shaw, company founder and president. "And a big part of our success is the athlete/partners who work with us. Just look at what they did last year: Dwyane Wade won an NBA title; Serena Williams won the gold medal in the Summer Olympics, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open; Sergio Garcia won the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour and was on the European Team that won the Ryder Cup."

"We’re honored to be considered among the best of the best in the sports industry." Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat said upon hearing that Mission Athletecare had been named Sports Marketer of the Year by the readers of NYSportsJournalism. "We’re all-in at Mission Athletecare, and it’s nice to be recognized for that. Shout out to my team in the corporate office at Mission: They’re real champions in business and marketing."

“Love it! Look at who we were up against for this award — the Brooklyn Nets, U.S. Olympic Committee, Peyton Manning?!? You don’t get higher profile than this group," said tennis champ Serena Williams regarding the other companies, leagues and people who were selected as being the best of 2012 by the staff and readers of NYSportsJournalism. "The fact we won this award says a lot about who we are, what we’re doing in the market and the difference we’re making in sports. I am very proud to be a co-founder and partner in Mission.”

Mission Athletecare, founded in 2009, overcame potential setbacks due to the NBA lockout at the start of the 2011-12 season to make major inroads in its rookie season alliance with the league. As the official athletecare of the NBA, the company introduced Court Grip (applied to the bottoms of shoes to reduce slipping on the court) and Power Grip (used on the hands to reduce sweat and improve grip). The company also unveiled EnduraCool, a proprietary towel that provides instant and long-lasting cooling relief after being dipped in water.

Mission Athletecare also maximized official deals with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Assn. to build its status as a pioneer, innovator and growth leader in the category of athlete care.

"Having league support enables us to reach a broader consumer base and gives us a great foundation when it comes to retail relationships, promotions, activation."

"Partnerships with the NBA, National Basketball Athletic Trainers Assn. and MLB have been phenomenal," said Shaw. "Getting a seal of approval from the leagues, getting their support, has been great in several dimensions. We have the athletes, which is huge for us in the area of authenticity. But having league support enables us to reach a broader consumer base and gives us a great foundation when it comes to retail relationships, promotions, activation.

"Consumers look at the league relationship we have with the NBA, with MLB and know that we have credence and authenticity," said Shaw.

It was a year of acclaim for Mission Atheltecare in many areas: The Wall Street Journal did a feature on the company's successful strategy of making athletes not just endorsers but also equity holders and active R&D participants. The Enduracool towel got national play on TV, magazines and news casts thanks to Serena Williams, Sergio Garcia, Dwight Howard and MMA icon Georges St-Pierre.

And Berlin Packaging, a full-service package designer and supplier, won the 2013 WorldStar Packaging Award for its work on the custom-designed Mission Athletecare Court Grip. Among the other winners for this year’s prestigious award were Coca-Cola, Energizer, Samsung and Toshiba.

The company's roster of some 20 endorsers/equity partners come from across the spectrum of sports, also including Alonzo Mourning, Amanda Beard, Billy Jean King, Gretchen Bleiler, Brandon Jennings, Mia Hamm, Ryan Sheckler and David Wright.

"Our mission statement is very clear: We create solutions to problems that athletes face. If we continue that drum beat, maintain that focus and continue to raise the bar, we can continue to be named with the Under Armours, the Nikes," said Shaw. "We are a young business, but we can do more because we are more flexible, we are not as bureaucratic or politica. We have the ability to find innovations and solutions and bring them to market very quickly. We have the advantage of being one of the bigger players in the south of $100 million space with a platform of 20,000-plus retail locations and more than 20 elite athletes as partners/owners."

Mission Athletecare and its athletes also support The M Foundation, which honors high school athletes "who are exemplary role modes in their communities."

Products are available in such retailers as Dick's Sporting Goods, Modells, Sports Authority, Sport Chalet, Finish Line, Big 5 and Hibbett.

"If we continue that drumbeat, maintain that focus, and continue to raise the bar, we can continue to be named with the Under Armours, the Nikes."

"Here is a point that I am guilty of glossing over too quickly," said Shaw. "Creating a product for an elite athlete is one thing. Creating true solutions for athletes to use in the most rigorous of conditions is a whole other realm. It is not hard to say you have a solution for an athlete. There are lots of different solutions. But when you create a solution or solutions and the masses of athletes get it and understand it and use it, that is a hard model to create, but one that we have done and will continue to do."

Following a year that included the most watched Super Bowl in history, the Summer Olympics in London, the return of pro sports to Brooklyn and a lockout that cut the NHL season in half, NYSportsJournalism revisited all of the top sports business and marketing stories from 2012 and culled a list of ten companies, leagues, organizations and, in the case of Peyton Manning, a man who worked hard, played hard and set the standard for creativity, resilience and growth.

NYSportsJournalism, a network of Web destinations covering national sports marketing, business and advertising with an average of more than 50,000 visitors, also wants to congratulate the other nine companies, leagues and people who were named among the best of the year by the staff and readers:

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Century 21, Emirates Air Line, Major League Soccer, NBC Sports Group, Peyton Manning, Procter & Gamble, Under Armour,  U.S. Olympic Committee.

Q&A: D-Wade, D-Howard, Serena Testify! Mission Athletecare Wins In Court Of Appeal

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