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The AVP has added two local marketing partners to sell sponsorships in designated cities along the Miller Lite/AVP Tour and it has renewed five partnerships for the coming season. The two additions are ProServ for the '98 Atlanta Open and Riber Sports Marketing for the Cincinnati event. Renewals were confirmed with Kemper Lesnick for the Chicago event, P.S. StarGames (Las Vegas), Buddy Mallet Productions (Corpus Christi), the Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau (Vail) and the Sacramento Capitals (Sacramento). The marketing partners are granted exclusive rights to sell local sponsorships in their market or territory (AVP).
While "there are solid reasons" why players "stick with their corporate partners," that doesn't mean they can't "sign with a direct competitor," according to Greg Johnson of the L.A. TIMES. Williams & Connolly's Lon Babby, the agent for Grant Hill, who helped negotiate his recent $80M Fila deal: "There's nothing endemic in an endorsement contract that prevents movement. In the vernacular of sports, you would be a free agent." Babby said that Hill's deal "doesn't include a non-compete clause" and that any such language "would push up the value of an endorsement contract." Babby: "That is going to be factored in, because you're talking about tying up a significant portion of a pro athlete's playing career." Babby added, however, that Hill "recognizes that continuity benefits both sides." While Johnson noted that some "well-known names have jumped ship to sign with a direct competitor," including Michael Jordan from Coca-Cola to Gatorade and Chris Webber from Nike to Fila, such a switch "can backfire." Consumers may view switches with "cynicism," figuring players are looking to simply "grab a bigger bag of money," while corporate sponsors may not forgive an athlete who "jumps ship to pitch a competing product" (L.A. TIMES, 9/25).
NFL: OH-based Custom Edge has been licensed by the NFL to produce new seven-inch bean-filled plush animals dressed in NFL jerseys. They will be distributed nationally in mid- October (NFL). The NFL also announced that over 3,000 parents and children have attended inaugural Kmart NFL Family Days this month in Jacksonville, Dallas and DC. The Family Days include stadium tours, skills clinics and autographs sessions. Children registered in August for the chance to be selected to attend. Upcoming family days will be in Charlotte, Oakland, New York and Detroit (NFL). NASCAR: Racing Champions Corp., marketer of die-cast racing vehicle replicas and adult collectibles, announced a new multi-year licensing deal with Bill Elliott. Elliott will appear in the company's first-ever TV commercial (Racing Champions). Elliott also joined Union 76, Circle K convenience stores and Phoenix Int'l Raceway in kicking-off "76/NASCAR Month" throughout Arizona (Tosco Marketing Co.). GENERAL: Lou Holtz will be the voice of new PSAs supporting the "America's Promise" mentoring initiative, which will run during CBS' weekend college football coverage (CBS Sports)....Sources say the while the MLS Revolution's "attempt to acquire" the Clash's Eric Wynalda was "negated" by the league, Reebok, which sponsors the Revolution, is "promoting" Wynalda and wants to bring him to a "successful team next season" (Frank Dell'Apa, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/26).
The ABL and Nike have entered into a media partnership for the '97-98 season. Nike will feature two of its ABL athletes -- Dawn Staley of the Rage and Jennifer Rizzotti of the Blizzard -- in a TV ad campaign for girls and women who play basketball. Nike also plans to use the two ABL players in a print campaign during the upcoming season (ABL). In Hartford, Bruce Berlet reports that the 30-second spots will begin airing this winter during ABL broadcasts on BET and Fox Sports Net. Nike Business Manager for Women's Sports Marketing Sandi Bittler: "This agreement with the ABL means Nike can extend its support for women's basketball through advertising year-round" (HARTFORD COURANT, 9/26). Nike is also an official partner of the WNBA and signed a marketing deal with the league in February of '97 (THE DAILY).