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Management Plus' Leonard Armato, agent for Shaquille O'Neal, described a published report that Reebok might be dropping O'Neal as, "funny, considering he's one of the most well-known icons in the world," according to Greg Johnson of the L.A. TIMES. Reebok Dir of PR Dave Fogelson "maintained that O'Neal is a 'very important' element" in Reebok's future advertising and marketing." CA-based Taco Bell "stopped using" O'Neal in its spots earlier this year, and he "won't appear" in Reebok TV ads slated to run early in '98. Johnson: "O'Neal's temporary absence from the two high-profile TV campaigns underscores how companies ... that foot the bill for lucrative endorsement contracts are trying to make more effective -- and, they hope, cost-effective -- use of highly paid pitchmen and women." Reebok's Fogelson "tied O'Neal's on-air absence for the first half of 1998 to the fact that Reebok products will be pitched on TV by other basketball stars, including Allen Iverson and Shawn Kemp -- along with WNBA and ABL stars," but Fogelson said that O'Neal will appear in print ads (L.A. TIMES, 12/18).
Deloitte & Touche's L.A. office will sponsor one of its staff accountants, Mariel Devesa, as she competes for the '97 Windsurfing World Championships in Australia beginning December 24. D&T will provide Devesa, the '97 U.S. Women's National Windsurfing Champion, with her competition expenses including transportation and lodging. Devesa's sails will display the Deloitte & Touche logo (Deloitte & Touche). HONDA BACKS L.A. MARATHON: For the third year in a row, American Honda Motor Company will be the presenting sponsor for the L.A. Marathon. Other sponsors for the March 29 marathon include PacifiCare/Secure Horizons, which will stage its Senior Walk, and the Southern CA Gas Co., which sponsors the Carbo Load Dinner, Finish Line Festival and Entertainment Centers (L.A. Marathon). ROPE WARRIORS: ME-based Yale Cordage, a manufacturer of braided rope, has signed a multi-year sponsor deal with "Young America," the N.Y. Yacht Club America's Cup Challenge. The deal makes Yale Cordage an Official Sponsor of the Cup Challenge and is the America's Cup team's Official Supplier of Cordage (Young America). RANSOM FOR STUDENT ATHLETES: The National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) announced El Cajon, CA- based sports apparel company Ransom Athletic has become a sponsor of the NCCAA Student Athlete of the Week Award. Award Winners will now receive a T-shirt from Ransom as well as a certificate from the NCCAA (NCCAA).
DEALS: Raptors F Walt Williams has signed a one-year shoe deal with Fila Canada. Williams, who will wear the Board Breaker sneaker, is Fila Canada's first NBA endorser. He was wearing Nike (THE DAILY)....Jackie Stewart will announce today that MCI has joined his team as a major sponsor of its Stewart-Ford cars (N.Y. TIMES, 12/18)....NY- based arena supplier IcePro has been named the tile sponsor of the '98 IcePro AHL All-Star Skills Competition (AHL). ...The financial woes of Nobody Beats the Wiz, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, is examined by Richard Wilner of the N.Y. POST. Wilner writes that "an expansive and aggressive expansion plan two years ago" helped cause its financial problems. The chain also "spent about" $6M a year in ads at MSG (N.Y. POST, 12/18). ADVERTISING: In AD AGE, Bradley Johnson reports that the NFL will hold a contest next month to pick the best spot featuring NFL players or images produced over the past four decades. Fans will vote over the Internet for a final five; a panel of players, ad execs and media picks the winner January 16 (AD AGE, 12/15 issue)....Goodyear Chair & CEO Samir Gibara said the company will add two blimps in Europe and one in Latin America "early next year," with plans for another to serve Asia and Australia "shortly after that," bringing Goodyear's total to eight blimps (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/18)....Nike "is considering advertising through skywriting," and asked FL-based Aerial Sign to show what the swoosh "looks like at 10,000 feet" (SUN-SENTINEL, 12/18). PRODUCT: NY-based Alphabet City latest CD, "Go Blue! The Ultimate Michigan Sports CD," is now available in Metro Detroit for $9.99. Alphabet City is expected to do more than $10M in sales in '97 (DETROIT NEWS, 12/17)....The NHL has granted a license to CT-based Spotlight for a "Double-J Reversible" outerwear garment that has a jersey look on one side and a nylon pullover feel on the other. The item is in JCPenney's catalog with distribution set to expand during the NHL playoffs. Spotlight is led by former Starter exec Kyle Sanborn (SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS, 12/15 issue).
The AVP announced that FL-based Ocean Waves Sunglasses has signed an exclusive five-year, seven-figure deal that will tie up the sunglasses category through 2002. Ocean Waves' sponsorship will involve network and cable TV commercials, center court promotions, on-site sales rights, rotational signage at center court and promos surrounding its new AVP line of sunglasses, which will include the AVP name and logo. Ocean Waves will also create a "Stokey" line of eyewear, named after AVP tour pro Randy Stoklos. Ocean Waves will also sponsor a player incentive program, providing cash and product bonuses to players who wear the brand during events and televised matches (AVP).