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SPONSORSHIP: NC-based Sports Media Challenge issued its '97 Sports Sponsorship Survey, which showed less than half, 47%, of sponsors who responded had moral clauses in their contracts with endorsers. In addition, 40% had no clauses, and 13% weren't sure. The study also concluded there isn't an "overwhelming preference" for pro athletes as endorsers, as 52% of sponsors favored pros, but 47% liked Olympic and college athletes and minor leaguers (Sports Media). THE CARS: IL-based Racing Champions Corp. announced the addition of Terry Labonte as a company spokesperson, joining Bill Elliott (Racing Champions)....Roush Racing announced that Primestar Partners will be returning as the primary sponsor on its No. 16 Ford Taurus, driven by Ted Musgrave, in '98 NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition (NASCAR). ...AZ-based Action Performance Companies has extended its licensing deal with Hendrick Motorsports for the merchandising rights to the NASCAR teams and cars driven by Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven (Action Performance). NOTES: Natalie Williams, of the ABL's Portland Power, has signed on as a spokesperson for CA-based MET-Rx Engineered Nutrition, makers of nutritionally engineered foods (MET-Rx)....Nike, PepsiCo and Sega have signed on as sponsors of the MTV Sports and Music Festival that will air on MTV November 7-9 (CABLE WORLD, 10/20 issue).
"Looking to boost slowing sportswear sales," the NFL and licensed apparel companies are seeking to transform NFL coaches "into tasteful arbiters of a more subdued line of jock chic," according to Chris Reidy of the BOSTON GLOBE. Reidy reports that the NFL and apparel marketers "have latched on to golf-inspired casual wear as a way to reach new customers," and that NFL coaches on today's sidelines "are looking like golf pros, wearing shirts with a team logo not much bigger than an Izod alligator." Reebok Apparel Marketing Dir Andrea Hoff said Reebok "has taken an inspiration" from its golf lines "and extended it into football," meaning better fabrics and "smaller logo treatment." Sporting Goods Intelligence Editor Bob McGee added that better fabrics "also mean higher prices and higher profit margins for retailers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/23).
U.S. Soccer and Nike officially announced a ten-year marketing partnership which calls for Nike to be the exclusive supplier and sponsor of products to U.S. Soccer and its national teams. Nike will also supply and sponsor all soccer balls to the Federation (U.S. Soccer). Nike COO Tom Clarke: "In the end the reason why this is a partnership and will be a partnership over the next 10 years is because we truly share the same goal, and that is to grow the sport of soccer in the United States" ("The Edge," CNBC, 10/22). THROW INS: CNBC's Terry Keenan noted that Nike currently has 12% of the U.S. soccer shoe market compared to adidas' 42% ("The Edge," 10/22). CNN's Susan Lisovicz: "Soccer officials say the saturation of the Swoosh will increase corporate sponsorship." U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg: "The Federation's signed some terrific sponsors -- the MasterCards, the Snickers, the Pepsis of the world -- but obviously the bar has been raised" ("Moneyline," 10/22). USA TODAY's Jerry Langdon reports that Nike, which sponsored the U.S. Women's team tour this year, has "agreed to sponsor" additional U.S. team tours leading up to the '99 Women's World Cup and the 2000 Olympics (USA TODAY, 10/23). But Richard Sandomir reports that unlike its ten-year, $200M deal with the Brazilian National team, Nike "does not have the right to stage exhibitions" for the U.S. teams. U.S. Soccer President Alan Rothenberg: "They put it on the table, but it was never a sticking point" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/23). BRAZIL IN DC? RFK Stadium and Nike officials will meet next week in an effort to bring the Brazilian National team to Washington, DC, to play Ireland in the second game of a soccer doubleheader in late April (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23).