SBD/26/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

L.A. TIMES LOOKS AT FREE AGENCY IN THE SPONSORSHIP MARKET

          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).

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Related Topics:

Coca-Cola, Fila USA, Nike

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