Nobull Signs NFL’s Mac Jones in Push for Off-Field Shoe Deals
(Bloomberg) -- Nobull, a footwear and apparel label that’s become a favorite among CrossFit athletes, is quietly building out a roster of endorsers across professional sports, even if its shoes never appear in competition on the football field or running track.
Its latest signing is NFL quarterback Mac Jones, whom the New England Patriots took in the first round of this year’s draft out of the University of Alabama. In a multiyear deal set to be announced Monday, Jones will endorse Nobull’s clothing and shoes and appear in commercials for the brand.
“Nobull is different,” Jones said in a statement. “Combine that with the fact that they are a Boston-based company, the partnership felt serendipitous.”
Unlike its larger peers, Nobull is positioning itself as a training and workout shoe. Its roots are in CrossFit, a high-intensity fitness regimen, and it’s been adopted by many of the most prominent participants in an annual fitness competition with events such as weightlifting and gymnastics. It’s so ingrained in the community that it became the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games this year.
To grow more, Nobull executives are counting on that training credibility to translate across all sports. The brand currently has 15 athletes on its endorsement roster, including four non-CrossFit athletes. Jones is its second NFL quarterback, along with Carolina Panthers backup Will Grier.
“If you’re training hard, it doesn’t really matter which sport you are in,” Nobull co-founder Marcus Wilson said in an interview. “We feel strongly that before long, we will have great athletes in all major sports.”
The formula has worked so far, with management now focused on broadening the brand’s customer base. Nobull was valued at more than $500 million when it last raised funding in April, and the business is profitable. The company declined to share revenue figures.
Nobull’s approach has placed it in a unique spot in the sports world, rarely seen in games but often in the gym.
The biggest endorser of Nobull doesn’t wear shoes at all when competing: Swimmer Caeleb Dressel was barefoot while winning his seven Olympic gold medals, including five in Tokyo this year. Ads featuring Dressel focus on his preparation as he lifts weights in his garage.
The only exception is veteran golfer Scott Stallings, who wears his Nobull golf shoes in competition on the PGA Tour. It’s an early attempt at sport-specific products, and designers are looking at how to approach others.
Management expects to continue signing endorsement deals in the coming months, focused on seeking out the best fits regardless of followings or prominence, Wilson said.
“We can’t compete with Nike on a cash perspective, and so we don’t,” he said. “We are who we are.”
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