SBJ/June 26 - July 2, 2000/Labor Agents

Special deal puts Tiger Woods on the ball for Nike during U.S. Open

Nike and Tiger Woods, who have been negotiating a new contract for about a year, signed a special deal recently that allowed Nike to run commercials during the U.S. Open that featured Woods playing the company's new golf ball. Woods' original deal with Nike covered footwear and apparel but not the company's golf balls, which Woods only recently began playing.

The deal came as part of the negotiations to extend Woods' five-year pact with the Beaverton, Ore., company and IMG, Woods' longtime agent, said Alistair Johnston, IMG senior executive vice president.

"As a result of his new relationship with Nike, they were able to air the TV commercials during the U.S. Open," Johnston said. "If it had not been for this renegotiation, they would not."

Johnston said Nike was able to use existing footage to create the commercials without Woods crossing the Screen Actors Guild picket lines. Woods had stated his intention to honor the SAG strike, which began May 1.

Woods' $40 million endorsement deal with Nike ends in 2001. Johnston didn't disclose the price of the new agreement being discussed, though it was widely reported a year ago that Woods wanted to double the value to $80 million over five years.

Mike Kelly, marketing director for Nike Golf, said the company is anxious to sign Woods.

"You are dealing with the No. 1 athlete in the world and the No. 1 sporting goods company in the world, and there are many issues in working out a contract," Kelly said. "Our feeling is we want to sign him for a long time and be partners for a long time."

Woods' endorsement of the golf ball has already paid off with increased sales and attention from retailers and the media.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook," Kelly said.

CALLAWAY EYEING ENDORSEMENT DEALS: Carlsbad, Calif.-based Callaway Golf Co. is close to an agreement to sign Colin Montgomerie to endorse its golf ball, said a source. Montgomerie, the No. 3 golfer in the world behind Woods and David Duval, is expected to play the ball at the British Open next month.

Meanwhile, Callaway announced last week that it signed a deal with Arnold Palmer to play the ball in what one source said was a deal valued well into the seven figures.

The 12-year deal ends in 2012, when Palmer would be 82.

Age is not an issue at Callaway, which is run by 81-year-old founder Ely Callaway. "Arnold Palmer is one of the great icons of the game," said Larry Dorman, the company's vice president of advertising, marketing and public relations. "He will play until he is 82, for sure."

Palmer is represented by IMG.

SAY HEY! MOORAD TO HANDLE MAYS MARKETING: Assante Sports Management Group is in talks with some San Francisco Giants sponsors about endorsement deals for one of the firm's newest clients, baseball legend Willie Mays.

Mays is being represented by Assante President Jeff Moorad. Although Mays has had some trusted business advisers, Assante is the first real sports marketing agency to represent the hall of famer for endorsement and public relations work.

"If initial inquiries are any indication, we are likely going to be able to piece together some attractive relationships in the future," Moorad said.

Moorad said he is likely to focus on deals in the Northern California area. Mays has renewed visibility right now, because the Giants' new stadium is built on a street named after him and boasts a restaurant named "24," which was the center fielder's number.

Moorad represents some current top MLB players, but signing Mays was something special.

"I grew up in Modesto, Calif., with Willie Mays as my favorite professional athlete," he said, "so this is a dream role."

ASSANTE HIRES SFX MARKETING EXEC: Assante Sports Management Group hired Jamey Crimmins, a marketing executive formerly with SFX Sports Group, as its new managing director of client marketing and relations.

Crimmins served as director of athlete services for Integrated Sports International and then for SFX, which acquired ISI last year.

Assante Corp. launched a sports division when it acquired the player representation agency of Steinberg, Moorad & Dunn last year. Leigh Steinberg, Assante Sports chairman, has said he plans to build a marketing arm to handle endorsement opportunities for the company's star athletes.

Crimmins said he plans to find marketing opportunities for all the athletes represented by Assante sports agents, including football agents Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, hockey agent Mike Gillis and baseball agent Moorad.

PREMIER SIGNS WORLD CHAMPION SWIMMER: Premier Management Group, a Raleigh athlete representation company specializing in Olympic aquatic athletes, signed Kristy Kowal, the 1998 100-meter breaststroke world champion.

Premier, which represents 33 Olympic athletes who have won 19 Olympic medals combined, will represent Kowal for marketing, endorsements and public relations.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@amcity.com.

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