USOPC extends partnership with KT Tape

By Chris Smith
U.S. volleyball star April Ross is among 19 athletes sponsored by the company. getty images

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has extended its licensee agreement with KT Tape through the LA28 Games. KT Tape, an elastic kinesiology sports tape designed to relieve pain, first joined the USOPC as an official licensee ahead of the Rio Games in 2016 and later signed a multi-year renewal through 2020.

KT Tape CEO Greg Venner declined to comment on the value of the deal, but said the contract includes both cash payments and value-in-kind components. Under the USOPC deal, the company provides its products to Team USA athletes and at USOPC facilities. Venner also noted that the USOPC partnership is far and away the biggest deal for the company, which also sponsors seven national governing bodies — including USA Cycling, U.S. Soccer and USA Track & Field — and 19 athletes, among them beach Olympic volleyball stars Alix Klineman and April Ross and Paralympic rower Oksana Masters.

Access to the Olympics is critical to KT Tape’s marketing efforts. “Every time there’s an Olympic cycle, and particularly with the Summer Games when tape is visible, we see a very dramatic increase in Google search, questions about the product and how does it work, and then see corresponding lift in retail,” said Venner. “Consumers are going in and trying the brand.”

In fact, KT Tape’s origin story stretches back to the 2008 Beijing Games, when the founding partners saw kinesiology tape being used by beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and sought to deliver a similar product at retail.

The company’s existing USOPC partnership was set to expire at the end of the year, meaning the latest extension will give KT Tape access to four Games cycles. It’s an unusually long deal for a USOPC licensee; barring a few notable exceptions like Nike and Oakley, USOPC licensee deals tend to be short-term agreements, though Olympic marketers already have their sights set on the LA28 Games. “We wanted to get to ’28, certainly,” said Venner. “That’s important to us, and they were receptive to it.” Initial conversations about an extension began ahead of the Tokyo Games.

As part of the deal, KT Tape will have access to use LA28 marks on its products and packaging, and in advertising campaigns beginning after the conclusion of the 2024 Paralympics. It’s the first time the licensee will have access to Games-specific marks.

Editor’s note: This story is updated from the print edition.

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