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Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and PepsiCo announced an agreement that names Pepsi as the Official Soft Drink of IMS and the IRL. The deal gives Pepsi exclusive pouring rights for all IMS events, including the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400, entitlement to Indy FanFest, now renamed "Pepsi Indy FanFest," and an interactive entertainment complex operated during May at IMS. Also, the IMS Hall of Fame Museum food and beverage services will be renamed the "Pepsi Pit Stop." In addition to its IRL support, Pepsi currently has pouring rights at 14 of 20 NASCAR Winston Cup race tracks (IMS). BLOOMBERG reports that although Coca- Cola is a NASCAR partner, Pepsi "has been spending freely" to align with race tracks (BLOOMBERG NEWS/L.A. TIMES, 4/2). OTHER PEPSI STUFF: "Access Hollywood" featured Pepsi's new ad starring Shaquille O'Neal, which has yet to air. The spot is for Pepsi's new 24-oz. bottle, and features O'Neal with a group of children. The voiceover: "Introducing the 24-ounce bottle from Pepsi. It's perfect for a lot of little thirsts, or one great big thirst" ("AH," 4/1).
Hamilton, Ontario-based Jackson Management Group (JMG) will handle all promotional opportunities for Mike Harris, who won a silver medal in curling at the Nagano Games (JMG) ....Woolworth, parent company to Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Champs Sports and other athletic outlets, will unveil its new corporate name today -- Venator Group. The name will officially take effect on June 12 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/2)....Taylor Made Marketing Manager Mike Kelly, on getting into the youth golf market: "Our research showed that about 66 percent of those people who buy Taylor Made products have children in the 5-13 age group our kids line is made for. ... [I]t will be a huge advantage for us down the road. It's all about developing brand loyalty" (AP/DETROIT NEWS, 4/2)....Budget Rent a Car has aligned with Callaway Golf for a rewards program that initially includes a Callaway putter for customers spending $300 in revenue in five rentals (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/31)....MLS Legal Counsel Dave Weinberg, after officials seized 389 items of non- licensed merchandise: "It's a problem that is somewhat encouraging, because it does show that there is interest [in league merchandise] out there" (S.D. UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/1).
Genesis Direct "has become the leading direct merchandiser of sporting goods in less than 18 months," and its sports division "could total" $300M annually "by the time Genesis is finished cornering the market," according to Andy Bernstein of SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS. The direct marketing company, which is "set to go public on the NASDAQ in May," has 29 catalogs in its "ever-expanding arsenal." Bernstein writes that although the company "piled-up a deficit of $73.1 million as of the end of 1997 ... company officials say things are right on track with projections, and Genesis should be profitable by 2000." The IPO has attracted a "who's who of underwriters," including Bear, Stearns & Co., Goldman Sachs and Salomon Smith Barney. The offering is expected to generate "up to" $180M, and the company will "likely be valued" $500M (SGB, 3/25 issue). HATS OFF: SGB's Chris McEvoy reports that Sports Specialties "is bullish" on prospects for its new Heritage cap, made of 100% cotton ribbed dobby fabric. It "felt so strongly" about the look and textured feel of the fabric, that it negotiated an exclusive deal for the material, through June '99. The caps ship July 1 (SGB, 3/25). HOOP DREAMS: Converse Chair & CEO Glenn Rupp is featured in the SGB interview. Rupp, when asked why the basketball shoe industry is "suffering": "Kids are a little turned off by the old formula starring the hero, the Hollywood hype -- the brash basketball approach to the business. That's why we've adopted the tag line, 'Stay True.' This means keep it real, don't forget where you came from." Rupp, on NBA endorsers: "There are very few who actually sold product. There is Michael Jordan, and then there is maybe a handful of others. Even the second tier hasn't been cutting the mustard" (SGB, 3/25 issue).