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WILL TEAMS BEGIN TO DIRECT PLAYER ENDORSEMENT OPPORTUNITIES?
Published May 8, 1998
The Orioles have contested a PepsiCo campaign featuring players Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson and Jeffrey Hammonds citing a section of all players' contracts which gives teams the right to approve endorsements made during the season, according to Jerry Crasnick of BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS. While Pepsi spent $50M to become MLB's official soft drink from '97-2001, the Orioles have a partnership with Coca-Cola that could be worth as much as $2M a year. The O's have cited Paragraph 3C of the players' contracts which states that teams' consent in marketing matters "shall not be withheld except in the reasonable interests of the club or professional baseball." MLBPA officials said the clause has "never been used to prevent a player from doing an endorsement." PepsiCo spokesperson Jon Harris said that the enforcement of Paragraph 3C doesn't hurt "either of the cola companies, but the players and the sport." Coca-Cola spokesperson Scott Jacobson said that in filing their grievance, the Orioles are protecting a relationship with a corporate partner: "It's difficult to be a sponsor like Coke and invest in a property, then have players go off and do what they want." Crasnick adds that some agents believe the Baltimore dispute "could eventually lead to more verbiage in player contracts." Walt Disney, owners of the Angels, has already inserted specific language in contracts that forbid players from endorsing a product in an Angels uniform without the club's consent (BLOOMBERG/STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/7). COLA WARS: PepsciCo filed an antitrust complaint against Coca-Cola yesterday, charging it with using "illegal strong- arm tactics to keep restaurants and other retail customers from pouring Pepsi" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/8).