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LABOR STRIFE COULD PUT BRAKES ON NBA MARKETING
Published July 18, 1995
The "mighty marketing machine" that is the NBA is "grinding to a halt because of an all-too-familiar monkey wrench: a labor dispute with its players," writes Jeff Jensen in this week's AD AGE. "Worse, the threat of a prolonged imbroglio between NBA owners and players is jeopardizing the already shaky health of the $11 billion sports licensing industry, just as it was beginning to appear that all four leagues... were regaining the synergy that's required for the industry to thrive." According to Jensen, "many licensees say retailers are preparing for the worst by ordering less NBA merchandise than usual, and those retailers that have yet to place orders, like the influential national chain Pro Image, say they are taking a wait-and-see posture." Jensen also says "a major licensing deal" with Reebok is "on hold" pending resolution of the NBA dispute. Tom Shine, a Pacers' Board member and President & CEO of Logo 7: "I'm very concerned. The track record has been set by baseball. The map they've drawn has shown retailers the way the game has to be played." Jensen reports that Logo 7 has "seen orders for NBA merchandise drop 25% from this time a year ago." According to Jensen, "analysts say the NBA enjoyed a strong spring, propelled by an integrated marketing campaign created by Berlin Cameron Doly, (now Fallon McElligott Berlin), New York, that was unprecedented among pro sports leagues" -- even though numbers for the '94-95 season are not in yet (AD AGE, 7/17).