SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Nestlé's big push with big spokesman moves into 'Sweet Seats' phase

Shaquille O'Neal will grace the wrappers of 26 million Nestlé Crunch bars starting next month, in conjunction with an instant-win "Sweet Seats" contest that will send one winner to Los Angeles to meet Shaq and watch a Lakers game from courtside.

Nestlé, a longtime sponsor of the NBA, has typically run some sort of on-wrapper offer tied to the league and the company's former spokesman, Grant Hill. But ever since signing O'Neal to an endorsement deal just before the All-Star Game, Nestlé has been running a full-court press, first launching a general television ad starring O'Neal and following with a spot specifically tied to the promotion.

Produced by Dailey & Associates of West Hollywood, Calif., the spot will air during the NBA playoffs and on non-NBA programming. Print executions will appear in Sports Illustrated, SI for Women, ESPN The Magazine, Vibe, US Weekly and NBA Inside Stuff.

Dedicated point-of-sale materials will include a 7-foot stand-up of O'Neal. Four different wrappers will feature images of O'Neal, with the instant-win component printed on the inside. Secondary prizes will include a "Shaq Locker" packed with a full uniform and an autographed ball.

O'Neal also is involved in Nestlé's "Hot Shots" program, which asks teens to send a videotape of themselves making a great basketball play. Ten winners will be flown to Los Angeles to the third annual Nestlé Crunch Hot Shot camp, where they'll go one-on-one with O'Neal.

Los Angeles sports marketing firm Envision, the sales arm for Philip Anschutz's sports holdings, is managing the Sweet Seats promotion.

Along with its league deal, Nestlé also sponsors the Lakers and the Anschutz-owned Staples Center.

 CONNELLY RETURNING TO NFL: Jim Connelly is expected to return to the NFL after a 21¼2-year absence, as managing director of NFL Europe in the London office. Connelly headed the NFL's overseas operations when he was vice president, international from 1986 to 1993. During that stint he helped hire present senior vice president of NFL International Doug Quinn, to whom he'll now report. Connelly later was senior vice president of consumer products at NFL Properties Inc., a position he left in the summer of 1998.

During his time away from the league, Connelly worked for a short-lived Internet start-up and consulted for several companies that market fan affinity cards. He joined the board of directors of one such company, New York-based Smartix.

Connelly has made a three-year commitment to work out of London and plans to return to the United States after that.

Bill Peterson, who was managing director of NFL Europe, left the league last summer to work for Philip Anschutz's sports holdings.

 NBA, MILK TEAM UP FOR TOUR: The NBA will team with the American Dairy Farmers and Milk Processors to stage a 100-city tour called the "Chocolate Milk Mustache Taste Sensation Mobile." Three trucks will travel to state fairs and other high-traffic locations setting up tents to distribute nutritional information, offer samples of unusually flavored milks and give visitors a chance to take their pictures with milk mustaches in front of an NBA logo backdrop. The photos will then be automatically entered into a contest where three national winners will appear in a milk mustache print ad in NBA Inside Stuff, and get a free trip to the 2002 NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia. Each market also will select three local winners.

Separately, the "Got Milk?" campaign is title sponsor of a three-on-three traveling soccer tournament produced by Summit Sports. The tour, sponsored by Procter & Gamble's Sunny Delight last year, is now affiliated with Major League Soccer for the first time. The American Dairy Farmers and Milk Processors have sponsorship deals with both MLS and the NBA.

 INTERPUBLIC ADDS SPORTS MUSCLE: The boards of directors at Interpublic Group and True North Communications probably didn't have sports marketing on their minds when they announced a merger of the two conglomerates last week, leapfrogging Interpublic into the No. 1 spot among ad agency holding companies.

But by acquiring True North, which owns ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Interpublic built on its dominance of the sports marketing consulting business by adding the small but well-respected FCB Sports Marketing unit. FCB Sports Marketing is the lead sports strategist for Palm and DirecTV, among others, and does work for AT&T Wireless, Fox Sports Net and Major League Baseball. Interpublic also owns Momentum, Octagon and Kaleidoscope Sports & Entertainment, three of the top five sports marketing consulting firms in the world, according to SportsBusiness Journal estimates.

Andy Bernstein can be reached at abernstein@amcity.com.

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