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    Default NBA cooks up edible logos

    NBA cooks up edible logos to make mark on pizza and toast
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    The NBA is offering edible basketball logos that can be put on cooked pizza.
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    The NBA is offering edible basketball logos that can be put on cooked pizza.


    By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
    Suppose you could get a Los Angeles Lakers logo emblazoned across a pepperoni pizza that's delivered right to your door.

    Or suppose you could get a Boston Celtics logo on the toast that pops out of your toaster.

    You can stop supposing.

    The National Basketball Association has figured out what fans are hungry for besides, for many, a Lakers-Celtics championship series: edible team logos. The league recently signed licensing deals with companies that offer these outside-the-box food items — and more. NBA logos also are showing up on everything from headphones to gardening gloves to outdoor grills.

    PHOTO GALLERY: NBA finds new places to put logos

    With sports licensing hit by the recession, major pro leagues and licensees are rolling out creative deals to attract new fans, particularly more women and teens. Retail sales of licensed sports merchandise fell 17% last year in the U.S. and Canada, estimates Ira Mayer, publisher of The Licensing Letter.

    NBA executives say global merchandise sales will reach $3 billion this year, up slightly.

    "It's still tough times out there," says Mayer. "This is not going to make up for the overall loss in the apparel business."

    Boosting revenue means expanding the fan base and creating buzz. "As key licensing categories have matured, it's an ongoing goal of the NBA to expand the brand into places that may attract new customers," says Sal LaRocca, head of global merchandising. That includes food, he adds, because "A lot of people watching NBA games on TV tend to eat."

    Among the NBA's edible items:

    •Pizza. The logos, to be available next season for all 30 teams, are made of sugar, starch and food coloring. They'll add about $5 to the pizza price.

    The logos won't be sold directly to consumers but to some 1,200 independent pizza parlors nationwide. The paper-thin logos come in 12-pack resealable pouches. The image is placed atop the pizza after it has been fully baked and sliced. The logo then melts into the cheese.

    "Most Americans don't make it to an NBA game," explains Rick Ellison, the licensee who makes Pizza Fest Edible Image toppings. "This is how they create the experience for themselves."

    •Toaster logos. Also available next month: NBA Pro Toast Toasters. These $34.99 toasters are specially made to "burn" golden brown team logos onto bread as it toasts. "It's a fun way to get kids to eat healthier," says Deborah Williams, president of Her Game 2, the licensee.

    Coming next year, she says: team logo panini sandwich presses.
    Last edited by Basketball Fan; 05-27-2010 at 10:02 AM.

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