SBJ/May 28 - June 3, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Gutkowski and Vuono to drive Ford Models sports unit

Old chums Bob Gutkowski and Frank Vuono are going into business together again, creating a sports division of the Ford Models Inc. modeling agency to land modeling gigs for athletes. Gutkowski's Magnum Sports and Entertainment, a publicly traded marketing firm, is poised to acquire Ford for $22 million once financing comes through. At that point, Vuono's 16W marketing firm plans to enter a joint venture with Ford on the athlete side.

Vuono said he is not sure if the Ford sports division will enter exclusive relationships with athletes or just do one-offs for individual modeling engagements, but he said there's one thing he is sure of: There's a market for real, live athletes posing in athletic-oriented advertisements.

"I really am tired of seeing a lot of consumer brands who want to appear athletic use people that are anything but athletic," Vuono said. "You see people in golf clothes ads that don't know how to hold a golf club or running that have horrific form."

It is not uncommon for athletes to appear in magazine photo shoots, but often they are not paid. Sports Illustrated for Women recently published its first swimsuit issue, with top-name stars like Jason Sehorn appearing in skimpy wears just for the fun of it.

If the Ford sports division flies, it's almost a sure bet that IMG will jump into that business, too. IMG now runs one of the largest modeling agencies in the world and, insiders say, has a few contacts with athletes.

Gutkowski said Magnum's stock price, wallowing below $1 and well off its 52-week high of $8.44, would not affect the acquisition of Ford. He also said that a joint venture with 16W would be an entree for Magnum to get back into the sports marketing arena. The company, formerly called Worldwide Sports and Entertainment before Gutkowski took over, has its roots in boxing and athlete representation but has divested itself of many of those assets.

Gutkowski and Vuono worked together briefly after the other companies they founded, The Marquee Group and Integrated Sports International, respectively, were acquired by SFX Entertainment Inc. Shortly after the acquisitions, Gutkowski was pushed out of SFX. Vuono left SFX last summer to launch 16W.

 PHILIPS SIGNS WITH U.S. SOCCER: Philips Electronics has signed a four-year sponsorship deal with U.S. Soccer that includes logo placement on U.S. team training uniforms used during practices and off-field appearances.

The deal, thought to be worth more than $1 million a season, U.S. Soccer's largest other than its Nike sponsorship, unofficially kicked off earlier this spring, but the final contract still has not been signed.

Philips already has begun to receive camera-visible field boards during U.S. Soccer matches, along with television advertising and other inventory. It will be presenting sponsor of individual matches over the course of the deal.

U.S. Soccer officials said there are no plans to add corporate logos to the competition uniforms, and this is the first time there has been any advertising on the uniforms used for training.

Philips, which burst onto the U.S. sports scene two years ago with the naming-rights deal for the Philips Arena in Atlanta, picked up category exclusivity in both consumer electronics and light bulbs.

  ONE LOGO, ONE SLOGAN: Anheuser-Busch has developed a logo and slogan for its 2002 FIFA World Cup activity: One World, One Game, One Beer. They are already being used in some overseas markets and will be used regionally in the United States starting next year. Currently, a World Cup promotion is running in Japan tied to 16-ounce cans shaped like bottles.

  TMA HIRES EX-HOST VP: Simon Temperley, former vice president of business development at Host Communications' event division, has joined Omnicom's The Marketing Arm as managing director of Event Link, the company's new business unit devoted to events. The company expects to be making several acquisitions in the next few months to expand in the event management and hospitality areas, providing that function for other Omnicom-owned agencies and their clients.

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

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