The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed a deal that will see Peter Parker and Bruce Banner in blue and gold this year.
Unfortunately, it won't mean the Hulk will be in the Bomber backfield or Spider-Man will be slipping tackles as a kick returner. The CFL has signed a league-wide agreement with Montreal-based Bulletin Canbrada that enables the nine teams to use the images of five of Marvel Comics' characters on men's T-shirts: Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.
Bulletin, a licensed apparel manufacturer that already had a relationship with the CFL, approached Marvel about doing business north of the border for the first time. (Marvel already had co-branded apparel programs with the NBA, college football and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.)
The comic giant was agreeable, so a number of designs were commissioned featuring the four members of the Avengers and the web-slinger.
The strategy is to broaden the CFL's marketing base, said Darin Miller, Bulletin's director of sales and merchandise.
"The CFL has a mature customer. You're always looking for ways to bring the 15- to 25-year-old consumer to the market and that's Marvel's core demographic," he said.
"It's great to be able to get that person who may not be a CFL fan interested in buying a CFL product. If you're a traditional Blue Bombers fan, you already have a vast array of product, but this is something you don't own."
The Marvel merchandise is available in the Bomber Store at Investors Group Field and online.
Bombers CEO Wade Miller is a big fan of the deal and said he expects the T-shirts to be popular with "youth and adults who are still living their youth."
"It's a great partnership for the CFL and Marvel that ties the two brands together," he said.
(The former fullback admits his favourite superhero growing up was the Hulk, thanks to the television series starring Lou Ferrigno.) Sara Moore, the CFL's vice-president of marketing, is using the same playbook as Miller. She said partnering with Marvel Comics on this line of merchandise is a "powerful" way to co-market the two brands.
"Not only does it create double the appeal to customers who are fans of both brands, it also reaches a new and younger audience who may call themselves comic fanatics, but not necessarily football fans," she said.