A Shot in the Dark?

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Many in the darts business awoke to a major shock a couple of weeks ago. The departure of World Champion Michael Smith from Unicorn is one thing, but his arrival at New Zealand brand Shot was a whole different level of change.

Like all industries the gossip and rumour within the darts trade was aware that Michael was going to leave the ‘grand old lady’ of darts brands and seek pastures new. The two quick releases of special edition major and World championships winning editions but no announcement of a new or extended was a strong clue.

But, often these things are a bit of a merry go round and elite players simply move back and forth between a handful of UK based, with one or two exceptions, brands that have mass markets and can afford to pay major fees and will sell enough sets of signature darts and other branded merchandise to ensure the player sees their percentage as worthwhile and that the company makes a significant profit.

There is another angle to a marquee signing however. When a brand wishes to break into new markets, massively expand or exponentially grow its global brand awareness it can often be done with a very big name making a big commitment and partnership with the company.

Eric Bristow’s mid 1980s deal with Harrows was perhaps the starting point from both parties point of view. Later, Phil Taylor and Unicorn began to push the envelop before the Target revolution of the 2010s. However, the deal to take MVG to Winmau was certainly the blueprint for todays darting industry.

No Bull, we hit the bullseye!  Today, reigning PDC #1 Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith joins the global Shot tribe. Look out for his exclusive signature darts range – designed and crafted by our Shot dartisans in our Katikati New Zealand factory – dropping July 13.

Sponsoring a pro player of Michael’s caliber and showcasing our dart designs for his new range is our ultimate dream come true, and we are proud to stand alongside Michael with every throw from here on in.

Like Shot, Michael’s never forgotten his grassroots and family connections. We chose Michael not just because of his success but because we share the same values – that family is everything, grit and tenacity always pay off, and there’s no substitute for experience.

Shot’s Michael Smith range of darts, dartboards and accessories will launch on 13th July 2023 and will be available globally in-store and online from good darts stores from that date. Enjoy the darts this weekend! Cheers from the Shot Team

Smith has clearly made a decision to become a very big fish in the Shot Darts pond rather than an, at best, equally big fish with one of the other more UK/European brands.

If rumour is not be believed then Smith turned down improved terms from his current sponsor and that a deal for a player of his age who has started to win majors may well total £150,000 a years.

Look closely at recent tungsten ‘mega-deals’ and you will see that they are not built around a single set of signature darts, or even a selection of player themed novelty items. Instead there are long term contracts with extended ranges of both darts and other merchandise.

Anyone who has seen the range of darts produced for Devon Petersen, who is barely in the world’s top echelon but is clearly seen as a superb global brand ambassador, can surely see where Shot are planning on taking Michael’s name and their own brand.

Will the ambitions of a rapidly expanding brand and of an unusual elite World Champion meet each others expectations.


Image: Shot

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