SBD/18/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

NBA MARKETING AT 1 A.J. (ONE YEAR AFTER JORDAN)

     It's been a year since Michael Jordan retired from
basketball.  "And the return from air to earth [for the NBA] has
been less bumpy than most would have thought."  The NBA "managed
to re-sign nearly all of its major sponsors for the coming
season."  And while no single star emerged to fill Jordan's
shoes, a "team of young athletes," including Shaquille O'Neal,
Anfernee Hardaway and Chris Webber, are "racking up endorsement
deals."  AD AGE's Jeff Jensen notes, the NBA "still towers over
other" pro sports.  The NBA renewed agreements with sponsors like
Gatorade, Miller Brewing and Schick.  Miller will hike spending
on NBA media and promotions by 10% to $50M this season.  Dick
Strup, Miller Senior VP/Marketing: "It's our most valuable sports
sponsorship.  They generate creative marketing ideas.  And they
have David Stern."  Jensen notes that NBA Commissioner David
Stern earned applause from sponsors earlier this month by
promising not to order a lockout and start the season.  Sponsors
were also happy with the league's decision to crack down on rough
play.  "A key marketing concern for the NBA this season is
licensed products.  For the first time, the league will
distribute all-star game ballots through Foot Locker stores in
the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  Customers who vote will be
presented with a variety of incentives to buy NBA-licensed items"
(Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 10/17 issue).
     FOR JORDAN?  While Jordan's career change meant a change in
ad strategy for some of makers of products he endorses, "no one
has seen a corresponding decline in sales."  However, many
marketers "find their relationship" with Jordan at a crossroads.
McDonald's is "reassessing the role Mr. Jordan will play in
future advertising."  Gatorade is defining Jordan's role in its
future marketing plans, "which include international expansion."
And Nike is looking to a "new generation of stars to supports its
basketball business."  Nike will not release sales figures for
particular shoe lines, but some say sales of Air Jordans have
declined.  Andrew Gaffney, editor of Sporting Good Business:
"There were definite signs of decrease, according to retailer
reports.  It's become a smaller part of Nike's business."
Gaffney also noted the slip in Air Jordans could be part of an
overall decline in "popularity of basketball shoes and apparel"
(Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 10/17 issue).
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