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Ascending Brands Stance and Donovan Mitchell Combine Forces in Salt Lake City How relationships create a winning collaboration between two of the NBA's best brands.

By David Meltzer

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mark Owens

When it comes to marketing appeal, few people would argue against the value of having an elite athlete as an endorser. In fact, athletes can be a great "bug light" for brands, helping to leverage attention from their passionate fan bases and create an even deeper emotional connection between fans and their favorite players.

More than traditional endorsements, I love seeing brands and athletes serving as partners, where each side is invested in the other. One of the best recent examples of this type of partnership comes from Salt Lake City, where Utah Jazz star, Donovan Mitchell, teamed up with Stance Socks for a one-of-a-kind retail store.

Two of the biggest brands in basketball collaborated on the opening of the Stance x Donovan Mitchell storefront in the City Creek Mall, making it the first-ever time where the rising sock brand has launched an exclusive permanent store with an individual. Given the fact that Stance has previously worked with NBA legends like Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade and James Harden, I wanted to get the inside scoop on what inspired this partnership, so I reached out to Donovan Mitchell and the Stance team to find out.

The Dream Team

I was lucky enough not only to score an interview with Clarke Miyasaki, the EVP of Business Development for Stance Socks, but also with Donovan Mitchell. What I learned was that this relationship has been continually growing since Donovan's rookie year. Miyasaki pointed out that the pair's first collaboration, a Stance store opening just two months into Donovan's first NBA season, resulted in a nearly 3,000-person line around the block in order to get in.

From there, the relationship between Donovan and Stance has only grown and deepened. The NBA star often cited the people as a reason why he aligned with the brand. "I think you should invest in a company that you really enjoy working with and being with," Mitchell said. "With Stance, it was more about the people."

He then mentioned Miyasaki is one of his favorite people to play cards with. As for Stance, the company is not only landing one of the NBA's top young talents as an endorser, but their deal with Mitchell includes equity ownership in the brand. They now have someone who is invested in their success and helps connect the company to young basketball fans in Utah and beyond. As Miyasaki pointed out, "Our vision is kind of to turn Don from an endorser to an owner. He's invested in the company and has a profit split in the store, so we're kind of all in this together. He's super involved in the design and we'll do a lot of product design together."

Brands win together

This type of athlete/endorser relationship is something I love to see as a sports marketer. It combines two ascending and aligned brands in order to tap into the emotion of fans. Mitchell now has yet another way to connect with his ever-expanding fan base and lay down roots in the city he's called home since 2017, while also setting himself up to benefit financially over the long term. Meanwhile, Stance aligns its brand with one of the NBA's most exciting young talents who is invested in its success.

David Meltzer

Co-Founder of Sports 1 Marketing, Speaker, Author and Business Coach

David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing and host of Entrepreneur's podcast, “The Playbook”, is a Top 100 Business Coach, global public speaker and three-time international best-selling author who has been honored by Variety as “Sports Humanitarian of the Year”.

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