January 19, 2009

Mission Skincare signs Serena

By LIZ MULLEN - Staff writer (SportsBusiness Journal)

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has signed a deal that will make her an equity partner as well as an endorser of Mission Skincare, a company marketing skin care products to the millions of Americans who engage in some form of exercise.

The privately held company, which recently hired former Reebok U.S. President Bob Munroe as its president and counts former NBC Universal CEO and General Electric Co. Vice Chairman Bob Wright as a board member, is filling a void in the skin care market by creating products for people with active lifestyles, said Josh Shaw, who founded the company and is serving as its CMO.

The company has signed other athletes, including NBA star Steve Nash and soccer legend Mia Hamm, and wants to add more. Williams’ personal agent, Jill Smoller, head of sports at the William Morris Agency, and Williams’ attorney Keven Davis negotiated the terms of the deal. Smoller would not reveal any financial details.

Smoller said Williams will be involved in product development. “Serena met with Josh a couple of times,” Smoller said. “She liked the idea of being able to create her own products there.” Products include lip balm, sunscreen and foot cream. Athletes “get royalties on products they develop with us,” Shaw said. Some of the proceeds from sales go to the athletes’ charities, he said.

Williams’ existing deals include Wilson and Hewlett-Packard. She will not be able to wear a Mission Skincare logo on the court because of the terms of her Nike deal, Smoller said. Shaw said print and TV advertising plans for Williams have not been completed, but the company plans to use her in co-op advertising with retail stores that sell the products, including Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker and the Home Shopping Network. Mission Skincare officials said they are also talking to leagues and networks about sponsorship deals.

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