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SBD/21/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing
MORE ON THE WTA NIXING TAMPAX AS TITLE SPONSOR
Published February 21, 1995
The WTA Tour's decision to turn down Tampax's offer to be title sponsor, which WTA Tour CEO Anne Person Worcester "had considered a safe business decision, albeit a distinctly nonfeminist message about just how unenlightened the marketplace remains, appears to have backfired," writes Robin Finn in the N.Y. TIMES. One "unhappy tour executive": "Now we're hearing that women are planning to boycott our tournaments because they're ticked off that we walked away from the Tampax deal." As Finn writes, "Perhaps that will hurt worse than any comedians' one-liners and male hecklers combined." Worcester insists the rejection of Tampax was "grounded in economic reality, not backward thinking": "Our research told us we unfortunately would not be able to do that had we accepted this sponsor. We're a conservative sport with a high-profile sponsorship, and we've got to represent ourselves in 22 countries, not just this one." According to Tambrands spokesperson Bruce Garren, the negotiations were "preliminary at best" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/18). MARTINA CLARIFIES HER POSITION: Martina Navratilova, WTA Tour Players Association President: "I have mixed emotions about all of this. On the one hand, you'd like to take a strong stand for a product whose integrity is unquestioned, not to mention that, unlike tobacco, it's a product we actually use. But event in the best of times, accepting and promoting this sponsorship would be iffy, and these are not the best of times." Navratilova said she was convinced that the presence of Tampax would have an "adverse impact on local event sponsorships," from which the Tour derives its $35M in yearly prize money. But according to Advantage Int'l, who brought the Tampax offer to the table, Navratilova's opinion was a "perfect example of the negative spin placed on the prospective deal by its competing agency," IMG. Advantage Int'l Exec VP Harlan Stone: "Anybody who talked to us last felt the deal was a positive step, and anybody who talked to IMG last felt just the opposite. Martina had told us in November that she felt good about the deal; she said she didn't eat cheese, she didn't smoke, and she didn't drink soda, but finally, with Tampax, the tour had a sponsor whose product actually helped players perform 365 days a year" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/18). Michael Heistand gives the WTA's decision to nix Tampax a thumbs down: "How can something so pedestrian become dangerously exotic?" (USA TODAY, 2/21). And KNIGHT-RIDDER's Meri-Jo Borzilleri thinks the tour should have taken Tampax's offer, noting the company was making a "title-less title sponsor offer": "The tour shouldn't let snickers and puerile comments, which will grow tiresome after a while, drive a decision like this" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/21).