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Leveraging its $24M-a-year NFL corporate sponsorship and "looking to drive its core Sprint Sense long-distance service, Sprint is readying its most aggressive promotional stunt to date, a phone card blowout backed" by $6M-plus in media, according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. Sprint will offer 32 10-minute phone cards, each with the likeness of a ticket from a Super Bowl game. Consumers switching to Sprint will receive four free phone cards and an extra four cards every four months after that. Lefton adds the promo's "resulting signup volume likely will help Sprint determine whether its renews the big-ticket deal" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15). NOTE: Coors is "preparing an assault promo" on next year's MLB All-Star Game that will give one fan a chance at hitting a home run for the reward of $10M. Sources say Coors will hold the event at Coors Field the day after the All-Star Game on July 7, with "expected participation" from Nolan Ryan. Terry Lefton adds that the Coors contest "is the first in what will doubtless be numerous assaults on official game sponsors because of a discordant lineup of official sponsors (like Bud) and Rockies sponsors (Coors). The Rockies also boast Coke, versus MLB's Pepsi; US West to MLB's MCI, and Visa to MLB's MasterCard" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15).
OH-based Goodyear "is no longer leading the tire race," after being "overtaken in two of the world's three major circuits" by TN-based Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., according to David Adams of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Adams: "In head-to-head competition, Goodyear is getting run over. Pulling out of Formula 1, and getting beaten in the two major Indy car circuits, Goodyear can rely -- at least for a while -- on its exclusive supplier agreement with the three- most popular NASCAR series, including" the Winston Cup. The company's Winston Cup deal expires after the '99 season, and a renewal "could prove costly as other tire makers lick their chops at the chance to get in on the NASCAR marketing juggernaut." Goodyear, however, "says it will do what it has to do to maintain its long-standing relationship with NASCAR" and the company's engineered products division has just signed a licensing agreement to be NASCAR's official supplier of belts and hoses (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/14).
RACING: Thorn Apple Valley Premium Meats will sponsor Cale Yarborough Motorsports' Winston Cup Series Ford and become an "Official Marketing Partner for NASCAR's 50th Anniversary" during the '98 NASCAR season (NASCAR). NOTES: The Zest spot featuring the Rams' Craig "Ironhead" Heyward was featured in USA TODAY. Procter & Gamble VP Mark Schar said response to the spot "has been so positive that at least one sequel is planned." Schar: "We hope to get him to come on for one of the college bowl games. He's got a great personality and plays to the camera so well" (USA TODAY, 12/16)....Kevin Garnett's signature shoe from Nike -- tentatively titled Air Garnett -- should be available in stores sometime after the All-Star break. The shoes are expected to retail for "less than $100." On Monday, Garnett flew to Dallas for an advertising shoot for a Frito-Lay spot (STAR TRIBUNE, 12/16)....Reebok Dir of PR Dave Fogelson, on news the company will scale back its athlete endorser roster: "Athlete endorsers, while very important, are not the be-all or the end-all. There are other factors that seem to be playing a much bigger role in what kids will wear on their feet" (REUTERS, 12/15).
NJ-based International Home Foods (IHF) has signed a two-year sponsorship deal with MLS for its Chef Boyardee line that will give the league "unprecedented exposure in grocery aisles and on Saturday morning kids TV, while continuing the brand's push into the tween-age market," according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. The $3.5M deal gets IHF exclusivity for its canned pasta, chili and beans. MLS "is also pursuing sponsorships in the consumer electronics, snack food and fast food arenas" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15 issue).