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WHERE WILL THE SPONSORS GO AFTER THE LABOR STRIFE?
Published October 31, 1994
This morning's USA TODAY looks at where major sports sponsors will spend their money in the future. "Off-the-field labor disputes threaten to unravel the marketing plans of companies that are planning to spend an estimated" $2.9B this year on pro sports sponsorships. Nike, which earlier this year announced an NHL sponsorship, "now says it is no longer content to make team sports its marketing base." Nike Dir of Advertising Joe McCarthy says the company may lean toward "sports that stress individual athletics," like running and tennis. Coca-Cola last had a national baseball promotion in '93, but they will not plan a similar event for '95 "unless it is certain a season will be played." Thrifty Car Rental "quietly ended" its 6-year relationship with the NHL shortly after the season was postponed. Thrifty's VP/Marketing Bob Dimmick insists the lockout "was just a minor ripple" in that decision. MCI, a major MLB sponsor, "will look closely at the angry reaction the sports received from more than 2,000 fans" MCI polled earlier this month. Tadd Seitz, chair of Scotts, a lawn and garden supply company and a baseball sponsor, said his company "will follow the fans" (Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY, 10/31). WHAT THE TEAMS FACE: As baseball enters its "money season," which includes selling ticket plans and advertising for next season, Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST writes, "It has become survival of the fittest for baseball. For the popular successful teams, the going has not yet been all that tough. Season ticket holders and would-be advertisers know that if they relinquish their place, others are waiting to jump in. But for struggling franchises, it's a different story." Advertisers are also wary. Dennis Lehman, the Indians Exec VP/Business, on advertisers: "They want some assurances, even more so than our ticket- holders." Maske notes that major baseball advertisers, such as beer and car companies, have "plenty of other places to put their ads" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/29).