SBD/8/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

THE BREATHE RIGHT STRIP: A SPORTS MARKETING CASE STUDY

     Breathe Right, the breathing aid manufactured by CNS, Inc.,
has easily gained the most publicity of any new sports product
during the past six months and merits serious consideration as
the sleeper marketing hit of the year.  First seen nationally on
the proboscis of 49er Jerry Rice during a Monday Night Football
broadcast, sales and interest in the product have increased
dramatically.
     CNS, which has manufactured medical equipment since 1982, is
based in Chanhassen, MN, and recorded sales of $9.9M in '94.  A
recent FORBES article projected '95 sales could hit $12M.  THE
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke to Nick Naumann, CNS's Marketing
Communications Coordinator, about their success using sports as a
way to sell Breathe Rights.   HOW IT ALL BEGAN:  Breathe Right
was invented by a St. Paul man named Bruce Johnson, who was
searching for something to open his nasal passages while he
slept.  After coming up with the Breathe Right strip, he brought
it to CNS.  Naumann said the emphasis on marketing through sports
was planned, "but not to the extent that it has happened."  While
awaiting FDA approval, CNS distributed Breathe Right to local
doctors and runners.  Upon hearing positive reports from runners,
CNS CEO Dan Cohen saw potential with other athletes, particularly
in sports that utilize mouthguards.   Naumann said their initial
strategy was simply to send a case of strips to all 28 NFL
trainers with a letter from Cohen.  With no prompting, Herschel
Walker, while suffering from a cold, used the strips which were
given him by his trainer.  Naumann explains, "Herschel tried them
at night and loved the product and figured, 'Well, if it worked
so well at night, let's see what happens during practice.'  And
then he started wearing them during games.  Jerry Rice saw him
wearing one and asked his trainer for some.  So Herschel was the
first and then it just started from there."
     OTHER SPORTS:  Naumann reports that the strips have been a
hit with hockey players as well:  "It is hard to tell because
they don't show up as well, but [Wayne] Gretzky wears one all the
time, six of the Red Wings wear them, most of the Capitals wear
them.  It actually has caught on bigger in hockey than it has in
football."
     ENDORSEMENTS:  Rice is the only athlete CNS has signed thus
far, but talks are underway with different athletes in different
sports, beyond hockey and football.  But Naumann stresses that
their approach has been passive:  "We had Herschel Walker ask if
he could endorse it. Art Monk's agent called.  We have never gone
directly to an athlete and asked them to endorse the product.  It
is all people who like the product and use it that are asking if
they can help us out."
     CONSUMER MARKETING:  Naumann reports that sales "are up
tremendously":  "When we started the year in January with what we
felt was enough product warehouse to last us through the end of
July.  We were out of that by mid-January.  People pick it up in
pharmacies, mass-merchandisers, and a lot of sporting goods
stores are ordering it on an individual basis.  We are working
out distribution through sporting goods wholesalers."  But while
sports brings much-needed "recognition," the appeal to the
average consumer is different than to the athlete.  Naumann:
"Jerry Rice uses it because he feels it helps him play better,
but the core reason is it helps him breathe through his nose, so
our advertising and promotion has been to get the person watching
the game to realize it works for everyone."
     ON FUTURE PLANS:  "We plan on using the sports angle and how
it helps athletes.  There is talk to come out with more of a
sports product, with colors -- a limited supply of maybe black
and red, or just black.  It all depends on production, and right
now we can barely keep up with the U.S. demand."  Naumann said
there has been talk of employing team logos, but again noted
distribution factors.  Breathe Right is an official NFL Locker
Room licensed product.
     OVERALL:  Asked if they realized how much sports could do
for them, Naumann said:  "We knew sports would help get
recognition, but not to the extent that is has.  Sports really
opened up a lot of news spots that were done on the product and
that helps tremendously" (THE DAILY).
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