SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

Adidas adds No. 2 NBA pick Milicic to its Continental collection

While Reebok is trying to make Asian inroads with its signing of Yao Ming, Germany-based Adidas is employing more of a Continental strategy, signing No. 2 overall NBA pick Darko Milicic to a three-year (plus option year) endorsement deal.

Milicic is one of a group of European players signed to play under the three-stripe banner. Other European rookies under contract to Adidas include the Phoenix Suns' Zarko Cabarkapa (like Milicic, from Serbia-Montenegro),

Milicic
New York's Maciej Lampe (Poland), Orlando's Zaza Pachulia (Georgia), Utah's Aleksandar Pavlovic (Serbia-Montenegro) and New Jersey's Zoran Planinic (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

Milicic, Pavlovic and Planinic are all represented by Marc Cornstein's Pinnacle Management Corp.

CONTINENTAL SHELF: Continental Airlines has added to its roster of New York-area team sponsorships, inking what sources said was a two-year, mid-six-figure deal that makes the Houston-based carrier the "official airline" of the New York Rangers.

The sponsorship includes Madison Square Garden media, dasherboards and rotational signage, tickets and hospitality, as well as unique Rangers items and experiences (such as a private clinic, or admission to the Eric Lindros miniature golf tournament) that will be auctioned for frequent flier miles on Continental's Web site.

Continental will also leverage with themed TV ads and a sponsorship of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, named for a paralyzed New York City police officer shot in the line of duty, which had been sponsored by American Express.

Continental, which replaces Delta as the Rangers' official airline, sponsors every major professional team in the New York area except the New Jersey Nets and New York Islanders.

SIGNAGE OF THE TIMES: We keep hearing about an economic turnaround, but we haven't seen many signs that there is one in sports marketing. However, if sales of Dorna's rotational signage are any indicator, maybe the freeze in marketing budgets has thawed a bit.

Just a week or so into the new NBA season and just before the beginning of college basketball, Dorna reports that sales to its 24 NBA teams and 78 college programs are already 20 percent ahead of last season's sales for the entire season.

Deals range from mid-six to low seven figures.

New clients are PowerBar, Canon (for digital cameras), OfficeMax, Accent Highlighters, Russell Athletic and the Nivea for Men shaving/skin-care line. Renewals came from Ace Hardware, Adecco, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Geico, Hancock Tires, Lumber Liquidators, Mutual of Omaha, Reebok, Starter and Subway.

NEW AND IMPROVED?: Regular readers of this space know we're always looking for the proverbial "next bobblehead." But what if the next bobblehead is simply a better version of the original product?

Two recent patents were granted to Alliance Marketing of Conshohocken, Pa.: one for stadium bobbleheads (perfect for commemorating the closing of old venues or the opening of new ones) and one for bobble cars.

A bobble coin bank is patent pending.

Since so many banks and automotive concerns are big sports spenders, we're waiting to see if they'll hop on the bobblewagon.

Plain old bobbleheads? Only to the untrained eye — these are freshly patented bobblecars.

HERE & THERE: One entering and one leaving at Octagon: Senior vice president and head of sales Scott MacLeod exits, taking with him much of the firm's expertise in the world of sailing sponsorship. Joining as vice president of research is Simon Wardle, brought on to establish a research arm in the agency's Stamford, Conn., offices.

At the NFL, Susan Rothman is elevated to vice president of consumer products. She has been with the NFL since 1995, most recently as senior director.

Steve Cipolla has joined ESPN Enterprises as vice president/general manager of ESPN Consumer Products. He'll be charged with energizing the ESPN licensing program, which recently switched from Disney control to being under ESPN's aegis. Cipolla was with the parent company from 1989 to 2000, most recently serving as vice president of Disney merchandise licensing.

Jeff Gonyo to director of advertising at MLB, reporting to senior vice president of advertising and marketing Jackie Parkes. Gonyo was with ESPN Productions for the past five years, handling some of its award-winning creative work. He has also worked for Ogilvy & Mather and Sneaker Stadium.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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