Check it out, this week’s HOT POT is forward looking! We’re taking a deeper look at the potential future of Maverik Lacrosse now that the “Paul Rabil has signed with Warrior” news is public. Is this the end of the line for Mav? Or is there a greater opportunity for this relatively new lax company? Initially, many said that this move would hurt Maverik, but honestly, I’m not so sure. Rabil’s move from Maverik to Warrior actually makes a lot of sense for all of the parties involved… so could this be a win-win, or even a win-win-win? Let’s get to it!
Rabil was THE guy at Maverik, and this was true for the last 2 years. They poured a ton of resources into marketing themselves through PR99, and in the end, it definitely helped Maverik elevate the status of their newer brand. The fact alone that a guy like PR99 would sign with Mav gave them an instant boost, and they definitely capitalized on that momentum. A couple of years ago, you would see some Mav gear featured in some online stores, but nowadays you see a lot of Mav gear, and it’s sold at almost every retailer. People asked for Maverik gear to be stocked, and then bought it. Maverik did a great job of marketing, and they really pushed their exposure from a grassroots level. But Paul Rabil was also an extremely important cog in the machine. After all, he was, and still is, the biggest name in US field lacrosse, and that is exactly the market Maverik wanted to enter.
So now Rabil is with Warrior. And things have changed a bit, but it is far from the end of the line for Maverik. In fact, the switch in sponsored athletes could even help Maverik. Don’t believe me? Then let me explain…
Rabil is an MLL guy through and through. His college career is over and in the books. His NLL career will continue, but it’s clear that he’s more focused on field lacrosse. This makes a lot of sense because the MLL has so much more potential for greatness than the NLL, even though the NLL has been around, in one form or another, for over 25 years. His US team career will definitely continue in 2014, but by 2018 they might be looking for a new top middie… it all depends on Rabil, and how hard he keeps working (and injuries. I can’t really account for that). So the point is that he’s an MLL guy. It’s his thing, and now that he’s won a Championship, I would think the MLL would want to use him even more as the face of the league.
For a company like Maverik, which has no real vested interest in the MLL right now, the push for Rabil to do more MLL stuff could have been hard. Not only hard to deal with from a scheduling and priorities standpoint, but also hard because companies like Brine and Warrior would still get all this free advertising… and all with a supposed Maverik guy. As a company, you want the people who you sponsor to believe in you fully, which Rabil may have, but they also want you to APPEAR to be dedicated to their brand… and with more photos online of Rabil in MLL gear than Mav gear, the appearance just wasn’t there.
Now some people will start to ask, “but Maverik invested SO much in Paul! Won’t this hurt them financially since they will have to make new commercials, create new products, and change up the focus of their marketing pitch?” And that’s a great question. Until you really start to look at the numbers a little more closely.
I don’t know the specifics of Rabil’s new contract with Warrior, but I have head a lot of salary figures thrown around, and some sound really high. Even the lower end estimates put him just above six figures a year. The higher end estimates seem completely implausible, but the point here isn’t HOW much he’s making… it’s just that he’s making a lot more now than he was before. So one can assume, if Maverik wanted to keep him, they would need to match this much higher offer.
So basically, they would be paying Rabil even more money to be seen in even more Warrior gear. Doesn’t make sense to me for Maverik to keep him, and it doesn’t seem like it made sense to Maverik either.
Mav still has a pretty solid stable of sponsored athletes, and even though none of these guys even comes close to approaching Rabil’s superstar status right now, they certainly could in the future. John Christmas, Joe Cinosky, Peet Poillon (how could I forget Peet? Thanks TK!), Billy Bitter, Dan Hardy, Drew Adams, Kip Turner and the formidable Kyle Sweeney are all Mav guys right now, and I believe John Gagliardi’s name still carries some weight. Bitter, Poillon, and Hardy seem like the frontrunners right now. Oh, and even their video guy is famous! Jay Jalbert is probably one of the top 3 midfielders in recent memory, and he makes their commercials and video spots. So yeah, Maverik is still pretty loaded with athletes.
And all that money they would have had to pay Rabil? Well that can reinvested in the company instead, or spread out to their current roster of players. The money doesn’t have to be spent on these guys in the form of salary either. Instead, it can spent on new commercials and video spots (all created in house, and therefore for less money!), print ads, Maverik Soldier appearances, events and tournaments, and even product development. And if done right, the above ideas could have much larger positive impact for Maverik than retaining one star sponsored player. And all for the same investment! I think Mav will like their ROI on this one.
So Maverik can now focus on branding their athletes as true Maverik guys (even though a bunch of them play in the MLL), focus on their product quality, and truly become their own brand. And this is another positive for the Mav guys. Look at it this way: a young company signs a HUGE name in its industry, and this helps elevate the brand. But then the HUGE name keeps getting bigger, and starts to eclipse the brand itself. So the brand can either a) try to make its own name and control its own destiny or b) keep relying on the superstar to bring in the popularity. For Maverik’s sake, I’m glad they chose the prior. Just look at Gait. They put all their eggs in one guy’s basket, and when that guy started to slip out of the top 5 current most famous lax players, the brand dipped. Be your own brand!
Now for Rabil, this is a dream come true. He is now officially the biggest name in lax, works for the biggest company in lax, gets paid the most out of anyone in pro lax, and has a sponsor who is truly vested in seeing him be the biggest thing since sliced white bread. Warrior gets him during the MLL season, and now they get him for the rest of the year too. For them, Rabil is the face of a changing game, and one that is just a short hop away from pop culture greatness. He is the embodiment of their 2025 slogan, except he’s doing it in 2011. It’s really a perfect fit.
Warrior can make Rabil feel like the top dog. Heck, they could even come out with a line of Rabil gear, which would be really impressive… especially when you consider that they haven’t done a serious player sponsored line of gear since the Mike Powell Brine deal. Sure they have Danowski and Crotty (Warrior and Brine respectively) but neither of those guys has a personal line coming out. They just use the top products that Warrior offers. I could also see that path being the one that is chosen. Maybe Rabil will not have his own line of gear… and this wouldn’t be the worst idea ever. It would mean he could endorse ALL of their products, and it wouldn’t put all of Rabil’s eggs in one basket. Just look at the Bull head Mav came out with. It was never popular and probably held back the sale of the Juice, Aeon, etc because the put some much effort into it. Let the consumers decided what they like, THEN have Rabil endorse it. Seems like the Warrior way. And Warrior already IS their own brand. Their place in the industry is set in stone.
So the question becomes, does Rabil WANT his own line of gear? Does he feel like he NEEDS that? I don’t think he does, but I’m interested to see how it pans out. Could go either way. But honestly, the only person who can really pull that off is Kyle Harrison with STX, and he has to be the hardest working man in lacrosse. So I’m saying it’s risky, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
Here’s the bottom line: Warrior sponsors the MLL and Rabil is the face of the MLL. Warrior is very happy. Rabil wanted a big contract that ensured he was the top dog in the sport. Rabil is very happy. (I THINK) Maverik wants to keep elevating their brand with the focus on Maverik, and not their sponsored athletes, all while keeping costs in control. Maverik should be very happy.
For such a “big” piece of news, I kind of thought more people would be pissed off. Gotta love the triple win!
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- Someone is trying to set up a second national team in Thailand. Surprising. And they’re being sponsored by a big lacrosse brand. VERY surprising. What makes it even more bizarre is that the brand in question is usually a very philanthropic company. They help a TON of new programs grow and do a lot for the game of lacrosse. It may not be the brand’s intention, but the move is creating a nasty, turmoil-filled competition in Thailand, and at a time when there are so many other NEW countries that need help! Not a very “grow the game” kind of move… can you guess the brand? This is equivalent to someone setting up a USALacrosse to compete with USLacrosse (with a slightly different mission statement) and then having one of the big brands step in and sponsor them. Bizarre!
LACROSSE VIDEO OF THE WEEK:
Lacrosse in SERBIA! Didn’t catch one word other Lakros. I’ll take it!