Australia’s largest dental impression company Impression Healthcare (ASX: IHL) has quite possibly scored its biggest commercial goal to date, after being signed up as AFL’s official licensee for its upcoming range of branded mouthguards for all AFL teams.
Through its subsidiary Gameday International, Impression executed a binding licensing agreement with the Australian Football League that will see the two companies collaborating for the next two years. The deal represents a “major brand development and marketing opportunity”, according to the home dental impression company.
The deal means that Gameday Mouthguards becomes an official licensee of the AFL with the right to manufacture and sell team-branded mouthguards with club logos for all 18 Clubs of the AFL across Australia.
According to the terms of the deal, Impression has the right to brand all Gameday mouthguard products with the names, logos, emblems, and designs owned by the AFL until October 2020.
Gameday said it intends to distribute AFL-licensed Gameday products through retail sporting stores, AFL club stores, AFL stores, mass retail channels, as well as online sales hubs.
Looking into Impression Healthcare
Impression has a dental lab in Moorabbin where it produces custom products under four succinct brands – Gameday Mouthguards, The Knight Guard, The Sleep Guardian and ITW.
Its product range provides a variety of support for users including the prevention of bruxism (night-time teeth-clenching and grinding) and the prevention of sleep apnea and snoring.
Its most recently developed brand is the Sleep Guardian Dorsal product. Impression introduced the Sleep Guardian Dorsal appliance for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring while sporting a unique improvement on previous versions.
The Dorsal Appliance is the first mouthguard product in which the upper and lower components of the device are independent of one another.
The design incorporates a lateral fin on the bottom splint to force the lower jaw forward relative to the upper jaw. Impression says that the positioning of the jaw counteracts the narrowing of the respiratory tract, moderating sleep apnea and reducing the vibration of tissue at the back of the mouth that causes snoring.
The lateral fin design is adjustable to maximise patient comfort and effectiveness whilst minimising side effects as the upper and lower components can move independently of each other during mandibular movements, including speech.
The market Impression is going after with its Sleep Guardian products is currently being commercialised by Somnomed (ASX: SOM). Its own sleep apnea product has propelled Somnomed to establish a strong business with amiable cash sales growth. Impression recorded around $830,000 in combined cash sales from both the March and June quarters this year.
One of Impression’s sports mouthguards brand ambassadors is renowned AFL Footballer, Gary Ablett Jnr. He said, “I am pleased to see Gameday become an official partner of the AFL. I have always been passionate about improving player safety at all levels of footy and I am excited to work with Gameday and the AFL to provide easily accessible, quality mouthguards to players across the country.”
“Gameday are industry leaders and I am looking forward to seeing the innovative range of team-branded mouthguards,” said Mr Ablett.
AFL licensed Gameday products will also be promoted and available for sale throughout Impression’s B2B-preferred practitioner network, which has grown to include 74 clinics following Impression’s collaboration agreement with Pacific Smiles (ASX: PSQ) signed in January this year.
This supplemental commercial avenue is expected to provide mouthguards to private health insurance holders. Sales through the preferred practitioner network allow private insurance holders to access the Gameday mouthguard with associated rebates. According to Impression, dental clinics will also benefit from marketing and promotional activities undertaken by Gameday.
From NRL to AFL
Today’s news of Gameday becoming the AFL’s official licensee follows on from earlier contract wins in other sporting codes such as rugby.
Impression signed a similar agreement with the NRL in February this year and has full rights to market NRL-branded mouthguard products.
With both the NRL and AFL contracts now secured, Impression becomes an exclusive partner for two of Australia’s most popular sporting codes.
In further news, Impression says it has entered advanced discussions with a “major national retailer” to distribute its entire range of AFL and NRL mouthguards. Its marketing push is being supplemented by AFL stars Gary Ablett Jnr and Rory Sloane who are expected to help grow brand recognition and product sales.
The AFL is currently the leading professional competition and spectator sport for millions of Australians.
In 2017, the AFL said that popularity of Australian-rules football continues to grow year-on-year with 1.55 million players participating in domestic competitions and 6.7 million fans attending matches during the 9-month season.
From a TV viewership perspective, the AFL’s showpiece event – the AFL Finals Series – regularly attracts around 17 million viewers in gross cumulative viewing audience each year.