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FOREMAN'S VICTORY -- BOOST FOR HBO, BABY-BOOM MARKETERS
Published November 7, 1994
The repercussions of George Foreman's victory over Michael Moorer for the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles were felt in the worlds of cable TV and marketing. HBO will benefit from the Foreman victory because Foreman "produces huge ratings." HBO Exec Producer Ross Greenburg: "The public is not going to care who George fights. He can pick and choose who he wants and wait for (Mike) Tyson" (Bob Raissman, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/6). On ESPN, Al Bernstein said a Tyson-Foreman matchup was unlikely due to Foreman's age by the time Tyson is out of prison and ready to fight again ("SportsCenter," 11/6). As for Foreman's marketing appeal, Diana Henriques reports that his victory "may be enough to lift the new heavyweight champion of boxing into stardom in the lucrative business of celebrity endorsements." Nova Lanktree, president of Lanktree Sports Celebrity Network: "Just think of the symbolism of this victory -- at 45 years of age. That has a huge appeal to baby boomers. I would be very surprised if he doesn't hit the market now with a tremendous impact." Henriques notes, "there are caveats: Madison Avenue doesn't usually consider boxing as a mainstream sport. Moreover, the buyers of celebrity endorsements have grown nervous in recent years as devastating scandals have engulfed several popular icons" --Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson. Even before his victory, Foreman had garnered "several substantial regional and national endorsement contracts," like Nike, Doritos and Meineke. But with title belts, he becomes a "major contender in the booming 'graying athlete' division of the celebrity endorsement industry," joining Jimmy Connors and Nolan Ryan. And Foreman's personal life "seems exemplary," which could give Foreman "extra post-victory appeal," because he seems "more safe" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/7).