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An adidas ad congratulating the Univ. of TN (UT) football team on its Fiesta Bowl victory, which began running less than 24 hours after the game, was a "violation of NCAA rules [which] prohibit student athletes from appearing in ads that feature the ad-makers' merchandise," according to SI's "Scorecard." The spot "clearly shows" the adidas logo on the shoes, wristbands and jerseys of UT players. NCAA Dir of PR Wally Renfro: "There's nothing wrong with Adidas or any other company producing a congratulatory ad that includes the company's logo, so long as its product isn't identifiable. To continue using the spot, Adidas will have to remove those clips or sanitize the ad so that the logos on the products don't appear." UT had "instructed Adidas to fix the ad immediately or take it off the air." The NCAA "had no plans to punish" UT, because the school "took measures to correct Adidas' error" and its players did not give the company permission to use their likenesses. An NCAA spokesperson, on possible penalties for adidas: "We can't really do anything" (SI, 1/18 issue).
Nike said it wouldn't comment on Michael Jordan's retirement before he held his press conference today in Chicago. The company's stock price fell 2 3/8, or 5.4%, to close at 42 yesterday (Mult., 1/13). In Boston, Michael Holley: "Remember the days when Nike was just another in a line of shoe companies? When the familiar swoosh did not trigger a whisper of 'Nike' in your psyche? That was the case in the early 1980's, until Jordan came into the NBA with his own brand of multicolored Nike sneakers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/13). A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER editorial challenges Jordan to become more active in issues facing Nike, including charges of poor working conditions at their Asian- contracted plants: "Jordan helped make this unjust system work and derived massive benefit from it, while distancing himself from the ethical quandary. In retirement, it's part of his game he desperately needs to work on. The issue needs a champion" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/13). ON THE STREET: Shares of Quaker Oats, maker of Gatorade, fell 3/4 to 59 3/16 yesterday, while shares of Rayovac, another Jordan-endorsed company, fell 1/2 to 24 1/2. Sara Lee, parent to Jordan-endorsed Hanes, rose 3/8 to close at 26 yesterday (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/12).
The Sports Authority CEO Marty Hanaka, on the NBA's return: "I think people are very apathetic about basketball. It could even have a longer rebound period than baseball." He said that NBA-related merchandise makes up about 10-12% of The Sports Authority's sales (SUN-SENTINEL, 1/12). CALLAWAY SLICES SOME OF ENDORSERS: The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen reports that Callaway Golf has "cut the number of professional golfers who endorse its clubs by more than" 40% as part of an $18M reduction of the company's advertising and promotion budget. Jim Furyk and Patty Sheehan are among the 33 of 79 golfers Callaway has dropped as endorsers (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/11 issue). OTHER NOTES: Agent Bruce Levy, on the Univ. of TN's Chamique Holdsclaw: "Corporate America is chomping at the bit. They are desperate to get hold of Chamique. There is a feeling that she is going to rewrite the history of women's sport and companies are anxious to be involved with that" (LONDON TIMES, 1/10)....The USTA aired a "Get In The Game" promo spot during the Jags-Jets Divisional Playoff game on CBS. With the game earning a 20.9 Nielsen overnight rating, the USTA said if "just" 2.3% of the viewers "Get In The Game," it would "realize its goal of bringing 800,000 new players" to the tennis before the year 2002 (USTA).
Analysts and sponsors "insist" the impact of Michael Jordan's retirement "will feel more like a tremor than a quake," according to Walker & Weinbach of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Fortune Magazine has "estimated" that the Jordan "juggernaut" has generated $10B in sales "ranging from" TV ads to merchandise to ticket sales, but "analysts estimate" that Jordan "still will generate more than" $500M in revenues this year, "in part" because he still has 10-year deals with many sponsors. Chicago-based Burns Sports Celebrity President Bob Williams said that Jordan's retirement "could have an upside for some companies, because he will have more time to devote to his role as a pitchman." While some feel Jordan's "long roster of sponsors ... may suffer," an MCI WorldCom spokesperson said that the company's "long-term relationship with [Jordan] will continue to grow" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13). WILL THE BULL CONTINUE TO RUN ...: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes that many execs feel Jordan "could remain a commanding presence in campaigns for consumer products." DDB Needham Chicago Vice Chair Bob Scarpelli: "He's more than an athlete, he's a cultural icon, so associated with our lives and times." MCI WorldCom spokesperson Brad Burns: "Michael Jordan the brand is much bigger than Michael Jordan the basketball player. He doesn't have to be in a sports setting." MN-based Fallon McElligott Creative Dir David Lubars: "Advertisers will still want to use him because he has transcended sport." IN-based CMG Worldwide Chair Mark Roesler: "You're looking at another Babe Ruth" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/13). Gatorade U.S. President Sue Wellington, who said that her company "plans to feature" Jordan in its ads despite his retirement: "It's not about what he is doing, but who he is" (AP, 1/13). L.A.-based Sports Business Group Principal David Carter said Jordan will continue to be a valuable spokesperson. Carter: "He transcends sports, and he transcends race. He can continue to capitalize on that." Gatorade spokesperson P.J. Sinopoli: "A sweaty Michael Jordan is not an image that is going to fade from consumers' minds too quickly" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13). ESPN's Michelle Stark: "Companies ... aren't anticipating the Michael mystique to fade away just because he's retired." Deutsch Inc. Chair & CEO Donny Deutsch: "There's a reason why Mick Jagger still tours at sixty. We're not going to let Jordan go, because we don't want to let him go and he's smart enough to be able to capitalize on that" (ESPN, 1/12). ...OR DO NO HOOPS MEAN NO SALES? Schulman/Advanswers N.Y. Exec VP Tom DeCabia: "Unless Jordan gets into sports announcing or commentary, and keeps a high profile associated with his game, his marketability fades in faster than five years" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/12). TX-based The Marketing Arm Managing Partner Ray Clark: "Like any brand, you have to get your message out. Jordan's message has been, 'I'm the best.' If that becomes, 'I used to be the best,' he will see a significant drop in endorsement income -- not this year or next year but within five years." Rick Burton, Dir of the Univ of OR's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center: "When he's no longer in uniform, the companies he's going to endorse will have to put the message out through paid advertising. The free marketing he gets from the media now disappears" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/13). WHO'S NEXT? USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz examines the type of athlete who could replace Jordan: "The next superstar who shines in Jordan's marketing light will likely have to break some sort of barrier. Or represent something that touches consumers far beyond the sports world." Horovitz writes that "marketer gurus project" that a "female phenom" or a "global star" could become the "sports world's next marketing wonder" (USA TODAY, 1/13). Pro Player President Doug Kelly: "The Bulls and Michael Jordan were between 30 and 40 percent of our NBA-licensed apparel business. Without a focus on Michael, it ought to mean other teams and players will emerge" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/13). BLOOMBERG's Pete Coates writes that Champion "is viewing Jordan's retirement as [an] opportunity to promote the game's younger players," such as T-Wolves F Kevin Garnett and Lakers G Kobe Bryant. Champion Licensed Marketing Exec Dir Bill Kraus: "It will open the opportunity for other players to assume the throne." Starter spokesperson Robin Wexler: "There's an opportunity now for the next group of Michael Jordan's to come out" (BLOOMBERG, 1/12). FOR MORE ON JORDAN, SEE (#2), (#5), (#9).