Jimmer takes first step into business world with photo shoot

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PROVO — Now it's Jimmer's turn.

There are a lot of folks who've made money off Jimmer Fredette through the sales of tickets, magazine covers, the No. 32 jersey, TV and radio sports shows, games and myriad other enterprises. The Marriott Center sold out his last six appearances.

Today, Jimmer begins to receive dividends from his career when his first major business enterprise kicks off: The Jimmer poster.

"It's a good feeling to be able to know you did what you had to do in college and now you are in a position where people really want to buy posters and jerseys," said Fredette.

"It just shows you that all the hard work you put into this profession is starting to pay off, and it's a good feeling."

Even at the age of 15, playing high school basketball and participating in AAU ball, a man recognized Fredette had value and registered an Internet website with Jimmer's name, a move to profit off the kid.

Now that Fredette's NCAA eligibility is over, he is free to market himself and pocket the profits. Earlier this week, five sports agents flew to Provo and made presentations to Jimmer. When school is out this month, he'll return to his home in New York, where his parents and brother T.J. will review the final four agents and pick one.

Jimmer's representatives have already filed to trademark several variations of his name. "We'll see how that goes," he said.

Within days of BYU's Sweet 16 loss to Florida in New Orleans, Jimmer and the Fredette family accepted a proposal from local photographer Doug Martin and his partner Alan Knight to produce a Jimmer poster. This is Jimmer's first venture to capitalize on his reputation as a professional athlete.

The Jimmer poster is patterned after a similar 1990 Martin and Knight poster of quarterback Ty Detmer after he won the Heisman Trophy. BYU contracted with Martin to do that shoot, and it was Martin's idea to place Detmer in a tuxedo tossing the ball in the air with the trophy, next to a marble pillar in the historic Utah County Building.

Because Detmer had his senior year remaining, he could not profit from the poster. All money collected for it went to BYU.

To make the Jimmer poster available this week took a blitzkrieg effort by Martin, Knight and the Fredettes. They finalized a partnership contract, did the shoot, chose the right pose, got the work to the printer and created a website called JimmerPoster.com.

Martin and Jimmer did the shoot last Wednesday, the day before the star left for Houston and the Final Four, where he received two player of the year awards and appeared on a CBS national TV broadcast.

When Jimmer arrived at his Houston hotel last Thursday, he reviewed photo proofs on a website while his family reviewed the work from New York.

In the digital age, you can choose your face and body from different poses and reassign them to create a single image. Martin shot Jimmer in many poses that included having two basketballs taped to his hands so he could palm the ball in different positions. He also photographed Jimmer with a single ball on the hip, two balls on his hip and poses where he tossed both basketballs in the air.

Amazingly, Jimmer and his mother Kay chose the exact same face and body to be used in the poster. They did not converse on the pick, they just chose. Then Martin did his magic. The poster will be a typical size, 24 by 36 inches. There will be an upgraded, smaller-sized version available on high-quality art paper that will be individually signed by Jimmer, framed, matted and numbered through 500 for collectors.

According to Martin, the Fredette family liked the poster idea because it is something to be shared with fans, celebrating all of the awards that have piled up the past two weeks.

"The price of $10 is the same as the Detmer poster 20 years ago. The family wanted to make it affordable for the regular fan," Martin explained.

Video of the actual making of the poster shoot with Jimmer will be available for view on the website.

The Fredettes declined an advance against sales from Martin and told him they'd wait for the official returns from sales.

In the world of trademarks, logos and money, even this simple Jimmer poster is an exercise in artistic rights, intellectual property and licensing. If it had the BYU name or logo on it, a hologram tag indicating a BYU license would have been required. This poster does not.

Martin retouched the image to remove the Nike logo on the basketball and the Nike swoosh on his shoes — because at this stage, before an endorsement contract, that product option must be kept open as a matter for negotiation as well as legal protection in a licensing deal. Nike isn't getting a free plug — except for the one in this column.

Welcome to the world of professional marketing.

Overall, the Fredettes love the poster project.

"It's good for myself and for the community to have something like this. I believe it will be a great thing," said Jimmer.

To date, Fredette's parents have handled requests for Jimmer, and the total demand is unknown.

"Not yet. But they've been talked to by tons of people for appearances, people who want me to come talk and different things," Jimmer said. "I'm sure more will come, but I just barely got done."

Back in Glens Falls, N.Y., the Fredettes have been the gatekeepers for more than a year, holding back people wanting a financial piece of their son. NCAA regulations have precluded them from involving Jimmer, but now he is free to be paid for his labor.

Agents began contacting the Fredette family a year ago. At first there were two agents. Now the number is up to 25. The family has researched issues of representation and have met with agents while keeping them away from Jimmer until this week. They chose eight agents for Jimmer to see personally; five of them were in Provo on Wednesday. The final cut will be done in New York in coming weeks.

Said Al, Jimmer's father, "Coach Rose, my daughter Lindsey, her husband Brent and Jimmer met with the agents in Provo. We have found it helpful to have different perspectives on the agents and what they say and promise.

"After Wednesday, we will compare notes and Jimmer will decide on two or three and the final one by May 1. Once he signs, the agent can start paying for Jimmer's workouts, travel, nutrition, trainers and his family travel, if they feel it is important for him to have us around."

Following their son's college career has been expensive for the Fredette family. They knew this from the start and were prepared. The Fredettes started by purchasing DirecTV, so they could get all the networks tied to the Mountain West.

Al had $10,000 worth of stock options from his company, AXA Advisors, where he is a financial advisor. He sold those options over the course of four years to pay for airline tickets. The family stayed with Utah relatives to help with costs.

Al's brother and sister helped pay expenses to drive to the MWC Tournament and NCAA regionals in Denver and New Orleans. The family drove from Utah to Denver and back, and then drove to New Orleans and back to Utah, before driving back to New York.

"The airfare price for three of us would have been $5,000, so we drove the 4,800 miles. But it was totally worth it," said Al.

"I don't see how most people could afford to watch their sons and daughters play. Without the stocks, free places to stay and help from family, we couldn't have done it."

These include offers for a restaurant to be named "Jimmer's Place," a travel business, several offers for posters, a book, speaking engagements, appearance engagements, with all expenses and travel, plus a sizeable amount of cash, paid by the company or corporation. There have been people calling who say they can sell Jimmer clothing on websites, and people wanting to set up autograph sessions and pay him per autograph.

"I can't name some of these because they are currently in negotiations," said Al.

The strangest request came from the BYU Bookstore on campus. "They called last week and asked if they could get permission to sell Jimmer hats, T-shirts and other items through the store. They said they had the rights as long as he was a BYU player, but that ended with Jimmer's last game. We are close to getting that done."

Al met with a Glens Falls city councilman, who is a longtime friend. The city is considering a summer parade for Jimmer and other athletes. On Tuesday, NBC TV contacted Jimmer about a golf tournament it sponsors in the summer. On Wednesday, a family advisor told Al he would have two or more offers to discuss with the Fredettes.

Glens Falls did a documentary on Jimmer's hometown life earlier this year, but they could not use his name or image anywhere in the documentary due to NCAA regulations. "We have not seen the final product yet, but it will be done soon and will be very interesting," said Al.

A film crew from BYU traveled to Glens Falls last summer to shoot a piece used by BYU during the season and on a website posting to promote BYU and the basketball program.

"This took a considerable amount of time but there was no real expense to us," said Al.

It is difficult to estimate how much Jimmer is worth as a professional. Some estimates are at least $5 million to $7 million a year. But the family recognizes the amounts are guesses, and much depends on Jimmer's worth as a player on the court at draft time. Could be more. Or less.

I discussed this with several marketing experts tied to sports. There are so many variables involved that it's a bottle that can't be filled right now, in April.

Will Fredette be a lottery pick or find himself chosen later in the first round? How much playing time will he get in the NBA? What team will draft him? Who needs his skills? Is he a role player, bench player or novelty specialist? How much value is in his image and name? What endorsements can he do and for how much?

"I think the system places a big temptation in front of kids right from the start. Kids want their families to see them play, and it must be very difficult for many of the kids, who have depended on and are very close to their families, to be in a strange place, working hard, knowing their family can't come to see them play, and in many cases, not even watching them on TV.

"That would have been heartbreaking for our family," Al said.

"Is the NCAA a nonprofit organization or do they make a lot of money on these kids? They want these kids to stay for four years but in many ways they make it very difficult for them to do so."

Requests for Jimmer to endorse products started coming to the Fredettes about Jan. 1, 2011.

"We simply told people we could not discuss endorsements until Jimmer's career was over," said Al.

In the past two weeks, those making requests have returned.

Shoe contracts with basketball players are cash. Football players taken early in the first round also get shoe-endorsement cash, but football players taken in the bottom of the first round can make about $100,000, with most of that in shoes. Chinese companies are coming to the U.S. and throwing around outrageous amounts of shoe- and apparel-contract money to NBA and NFL players. So sometimes there are offers from more than Nike or Adidas.

There is a lot of hot air expelled in the name of public relations. One agent told me that reports of Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Netwon receiving $1 million from Under Armour is "highly inflated."

All the experts I spoke to said Fredette should be in a big hurry to capitalize on his fame — that he may never be more popular than right now because of unforeseen variables once drafted.

None wanted to speak on the record because some are negotiating for representation.

"Jimmer ought to be getting as much done as he can: the shoe contract, other endorsements, the use of his name," said one agent. "He ought to register his name and license it back to BYU because the university is going to make a ton of money off him for years to come," said one agent.

Some experts believe Jimmer should sign an agent sooner rather than later because there are issues that need to be taken care of while he's hot with the awards.

Like the poster release this weekend in Orem.

Martin said the marketing plan for the Jimmer poster targets the next 100 days as a time for the height of sales because of his recent player of the year awards.

With the use of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, there are national and worldwide avenues to sell a poster that never existed back in the Detmer days, when primarily the word went out only locally, said Martin.

That time, Detmer didn't receive a dime.

This time, Jimmer and his family will profit like Americans are wont to do.

Of course, it will be outside the realm of the NCAA, which restricts student athletes from profiting from their image while in school. But the NCAA accepts billions of dollars from CBS for the rights to televise the NCAA Tournament.

Yes, open the door.

It is another kind of Jimmer Time.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

Order your poster at jimmerposter.com

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