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GOING POSTAL: USPS IS PLEASED WITH ITS U.S. CYCLING DEAL
Published July 17, 1998
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), one of the "most recognizable national symbols" in the world, believes that its sponsorship deal with the U.S. Cycling team competing in the Tour de France "makes a lot of sense," according to Laurence Zuckerman of the N.Y. TIMES. However, Zuckerman writes that "[u]nfortunately for" the USPS, pro cycling is "just not that widely followed in the [U.S.], where most of its customers happen to be." Interest in cycling "is growing in this country," but it is "still far from the national passion it is in Europe." Zuckerman calls the USPS's $1M sponsorship deal "cheap even if relatively small numbers of Americans will notice." This year, the USPS assigned a special team to use its cycling sponsorship to "drum up business," and companies that have signed new deals with USPS as a result include NationsBank and Nashbar. The USPS "decided not to buy time" on ABC and ESPN's Tour de France telecasts and instead plans to spend the money to sponsor U.S. pro races. But, Zuckerman notes that ESPN has still focused "a lot of its coverage on" the U.S. Postal team, as team member George Hincapie's "early success has helped" lift the event's ratings by one-tenth of a point, to around 400,000 homes (Laurence Zuckerman, N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).