SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

Sponsors keep eye on Sosa

Some of the companies Sammy Sosa endorses say they'll wait to see the consequences of the discovery last Tuesday that he was using a corked bat in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Will broken bat saw off Sosa’s sponsor appeal?
"We'll see how the situation plays out," said Dave DeCecco, Pepsi spokesman. The "situation" is Major League Baseball's investigation into the bat that shattered in Sosa's hands and others taken from his locker for inspection by the league. DeCecco would not discuss current Sosa ad campaigns.

Sosa has a deal with Easton Sports to promote its bats, shoes, gloves and wristbands, but Easton's response was surprising: a claim its endorser was not using the company's bat, but a competitor's.

"The bat confiscated in last [Tuesday's] game was not manufactured by Easton Sports," the company said in a statement the following day. "Sammy Sosa will customarily use different brands of bats during the season.

"Easton bats may have been gathered from Sosa's locker following the game. However, the company does not have any information on the status or process for reviewing those bats. Easton Sports has never manufactured an illegal wood bat, corked or otherwise."

The statement concluded, "We look forward to continuing our relationship with Sosa as Major League Baseball resolves this issue."

Sosa signed a $500,000-a-year "head-to-toe" endorsement deal with Easton in March and renewed his Pepsi deal the same month. Terms of the Pepsi deal were not disclosed.

MasterCard is another Sosa endorsee, but its vice president for global sponsorship, Bob Cramer, did not return a call asking for comment.

Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, said he thought any effects of the controversy would be temporary.

"Is there a taint? Yes," he told ESPN. "Will he recover from it? I believe yes."

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