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MLB'S SPONSOR AND LICENSING $$ UP; ADIDAS SUIT SETTLED SOON?
Published March 31, 1998
As MLB opens its season today, its sponsorship and licensing revenues are "up double digits, while starting from an admittedly small base," according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. But the "primary sticking point" for MLB's "stalled on-field apparel program" is Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner. MLBP President Bob Gamgort: "The biggest thing standing between us and a new program is settling the Adidas lawsuit and I think we are closer than we have been." Lefton's sources said that a settlement was discussed during the recent MLB owners meetings, "with a major impediment" being Steinbrenner's desire to be reinstated to MLB's Exec Council. He was removed from the committee last year after his adidas deal. Lefton adds that new on-field brands "are expected to include" Pro Player and adidas. New Era, MLB's exclusive cap provider, is "close" to a five-year extension which a source "pegged at more than" $60M (BRANDWEEK, 3/30). LOCAL STRATEGY: MLB's "new ad strategy" in '99 will see national spots "complemented in local markets by ads featuring a similar concept specific to each team," according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. The "goal" is to create "one voice with which the league and its 30 teams can promote the game to fans." A "test" involving one team is planned for this year. The campaign will continue with the "What A Game" tag created by Lowe & Partners/SMS, N.Y. Plans for '99 would have "news bulletin" spots customized for every team which would follow the team's progress throughout the season (Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 3/30 issue). MLB NOTES: Starter took out a full-page ad in USA TODAY promoting their satin MLB dugout jackets. From the ad: "Opening Day Dress Code: Jackets Required" (USA TODAY, 3/31)....MLB's Public Service Campaign for '98 will promote the partnership between the league and its official charity, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Two 30-second TV spots feature MLBers who are alumni or active supporters of the BGCA. Players involved include Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., John Olerud, John Smoltz and Frank Thomas. The first spot will run today on ESPN's Opening Day coverage, and both spots will run throughout the season during MLB coverage on Fox, FSN, FX, ESPN and NBC (MLB)....BRANDWEEK reports that Blimpie Subs & Salads is linking with Morgan Creek Productions for a promo around the April 17 release of "Major League III: Back to the Minors" (BRANDWEEK, 3/30).