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Fox Sports Interactive (FSI) will create "an unusually large" $2M ad campaign behind its new video games, "Fox Sports Golf '99" and "Fox Sports Soccer '99," set for a June release, according to Scott Hettrick of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. While $2M is "a fairly typical amount to spend on a major title," it's more than is "usually spent" on golf and soccer titles, and Fox says it "is the first time any golf video game has been marketed with TV advertising." FSI, a new joint venture with Fox Sports, will market the games to its "target audience," with most of the advertising on Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports World. Hettrick adds that the games will also be promoted on Fox Web sites, on radio and in print (Scott Hettrick, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/1).
YOU LOVE IT: Steve Smith will be featured in a PSA for the NBA TeamUP Program on Saturday during NBC's coverage of the NBA Playoffs. Smith: "Everyone wins when you volunteer" (NBAE)....Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Scott Burrell will be featured in one of the new NBA "I Love This Game" commercials debuting Sunday on NBC. Jordan also is featured in a slow-mo "I Love This Game" spot (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/1). John Starks, Charlie Ward and Allan Houston will also appear in new "I Love This Game" spots on Sunday (N.Y. POST, 4/29). NOTES: IL-based Burns Sports Celebrity Service booked Walter Payton to appear on behalf of AmEx at the Food Marketing Institute Show in Chicago on Monday (THE DAILY). ...NATIONAL SPEED SPORT NEWS's Chris Economaki, on Pep Boys' title sponsorship of the IRL: "At this stage of the game Pep Boys is far ahead of where RJReynolds was when it started off with NASCAR." Pep Boys Dir of Corporate Communications Bill Furtevic said the deal is expected to create nearly 2.7 billion impressions for Pep Boys in the first year alone (NSSN, 4/22 issue)....Nike will team with non-profit organization KaBOOM to build playgrounds and specially designed rubber playground surfaces in ten cities nationwide. Nike will contribute 75% of the money needed for the court/playground surfaces, with the various communities contributing the rest (DETROIT NEWS, 5/1).
MLB, the Yankees and adidas announced a settlement of litigation which has led to adidas and MLB entering into an industry-wide national license and worldwide advertising rights agreement. The Yankees and adidas filed suit last May against MLB saying the league was interfering with the team's implementation of its 10-year, $90M marketing agreement with adidas. Subsequently, Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner was removed from his position on MLB's Exec Council. The settlement announced yesterday does not include any on-field participation by adidas, but such a role is currently under negotiation between MLB and adidas, among other suppliers. In addition, Steinbrenner will return to his position on MLB's ruling Exec Council (MLB). BIG WIN FOR ADIDAS? The AP's Ronald Blum reports that in the "unannounced part of the deal," the Yankees agreed to pay the legal fees of the commissioner's office, which totaled about $500,000 (AP/DETROIT NEWS, 5/1). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay calls the settlement a "win for the Yankees and, potentially, a bigger score" for adidas. The company earned an MLBP footwear license and the ability to use MLB uniforms in worldwide ads. It will also keep royalties from sales already made. One former MLB marketer: "Baseball held the fort; nobody ambushed them. But it opens the door for adidas when the other deals expire. Steinbrenner's back in power, so he'll have influence on future marketing and licensing deals" (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 5/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL calls the deal a "major victory" for adidas as it can "continue its Yankees sponsorship virtually as it was written" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/1). ON THE FIELD: MLBP announced it has extended agreements with Majestic Athletic for T-shirts, shorts, batting practice jerseys and turtlenecks; New Era Caps for headwear; Russell Athletic for game uniforms and Starter Corp. for outerwear. Each deal was extended through '99 with New Era's agreement extended through 2003. New to the '99 program is the creation of a pooled marketing fund for the on-field product line. In the footwear category, adidas, Nike and Reebok have joined MLBP as national marketing partners, retaining the rights to use official MLB uniforms in advertising and promotion in the footwear category. In addition, adidas and Nike entered into an agreement with MLB Int'l to extend those marketing rights overseas (MLB).
SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS examines Fall '98 licensed soccer apparel in its SportsCast Seasons section and Kristina Grish reports that with World Cup attention increasing this year, MLS licensees "are rooting for 1998 to be the year that league soccer makes the retail cut." Adidas Soccer Apparel Line Manager Stephen Todd: "[S]ales have not been what they were expected to be. But the NFL and NBA had growing pains in the beginning. Now the battle is to make the MLS a credible league, too." In a sidebar, SGB's Marianne Bhonslay reports that from a licensing perspective, MLS is "making slow but steady gains." MLS projects generating an estimated $65-75M at retail this season, up from $50M last year. First-year licensing revenues at retail were about $30M. SGB's SportsCast Seasons special also includes an exclusive survey of soccer dealers nationally, which shows that adidas and Nike "are the fastest growing brands among soccer retailers in terms of both dollar and percentage growth" (SGB, 4/15 issue).