SBD/26/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing


          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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Coca-Cola, Nike

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