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SELLING BASEBALL'S RE- ENTRY II: WHAT WILL THE SPONSORS DO?
Published April 4, 1995
IN THE FOLD: Miller Brewing began running a TV ad Sunday depicting two fans "orchestrating" a settlement with help from Miller Lite beer. Miller also said that they have renegotiated the terms of its agreements with the 12 teams the company sponsors. Reebok spokesperson Dave Fogelson, whose company ran ads featuring Frank Thomas during the strike, said everything is "pretty much business as usual" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). Gillette has given the "go-ahead for its traditional World Series promotion (AP/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/4). Anheuser-Busch VP/Corporate Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo: "We were essentially sticking with baseball." But, Ponturo also said "if the ratings are down and the audience are down, we will adjust our sponsorships accordingly" (L.A. TIMES, 4/4). SPONSORS PULLING BACK: Coca-Cola sports marketing spokesperson Ben Deutsch said the company, which has local deals with 24 of the 28 teams, has "asked for a significant reduction, up to half, in our sponsorship fees." Deutsch emphasized that the company's "determination to lower its costs will not change with the settlement" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). More Deutsch: "We base our sponsorship on two things: likability and predictability. From where we're sitting, the jury is still out on likability. As for predictability, you used to be able to count on Opening Day, the first ball thrown out at Riverfront Stadium. ... That's certainly changed from last year" (Steve Fairaru, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/4). Texaco said they would not rescind on their decision not to distribute All-Star fans ballots at their service stations (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). Nickelodeon will not reopen its special kids theme park at Shea Stadium when the season begins, with Nickelodeon officials uncertain whether they would reopen before summer (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 4/3). THE BASEBALL NETWORK: TBN President/CEO Ken Schanzer "captured the bittersweet attitude prevailing yesterday" about the game being back but sponsors being wary, by repeating the punch line to an old joke: "Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" More Schanzer: "I'm optimistic that once the product gets back on the field, advertisers will see the enduring strengths of baseball and they'll want to be back in the game. ... But I'm not Pollyanna-ish. We can't ignore the fact we've been through a very difficult period." Among the sponsors who have signed on with TBN for '95: Anheuser-Busch, Gatorade, GM, MCI and Texaco. Coca-Cola is still negotiating its level of participation with TBN for '95 (N.Y. TIMES, 4/4). LOCAL TV: In Boston, WSBK-TV GM Stu Tauber notes the station has lost the "prime selling time": "We only have three weeks to sell all this stuff. I have people who are already gone who are never coming back" (AP/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/4). Tauber estimates ad revenues on Red Sox games will drop as much as 25% (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/4).