MLS Chair Alan Rothenberg and adidas soccer Manager Tom Kain
announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement involving adidas
uniforms and footwear for the Columbus, OH franchise. Rothenberg
said the agreement designates adidas as an "official uniform and
footwear supplier to MLS" and expects to announce "one more"
uniform supplier later this week. Kain said the agreement
continues adidas' support for the growth of soccer in the U.S.
through "start up efforts" such as MLS, clinics and programs for
all levels of soccer and its players. Rothenberg expects to
announce more investors and franchise cities for the MLS in the
coming weeks. Nike already supplies uniforms and footwear for
six MLS teams while Reebok supplies for three teams. Mitre
Sports provides the official game ball (THE DAILY).
WORLD CUP: South Africa intends to bid to host the 2006
World Cup. The South African Football Association announced its
intention in a letter to FIFA. Besides South Africa, the German
Football Association has also declared an interest in the 2006
Cup (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/20).
In a column in yesterday's L.A. TIMES, Bonnie Frankel, "who
last year successfully challenged an NCAA rule that prevented
older female athletes from competing in college sports," says
"there has been a generational shift in how" women feel about
sports, and "the only way to ever change decisions by male media
executives is to change the financial balance in their
advertising dollars." Frankel believes women are "still
relegated to the 'back of the bus' when it comes to media sports
coverage," and that the Harding/Kerrigan story "nearly undid us"
since it "took on soap-opera rather than athletic proportions."
Frankel: "Corporate America is missing the boat. Yes, hire
female sportscasters -- but more important, turn them loose on
sports news about women. The inevitable result will be a whole
new advertising audience you never dreamed existed" (LOS ANGELES
The Federal Trade Commission said yesterday that the "Made
in the U.S.A." claims of New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. and Hyde
Athletic Industries "were false because not all of the components
are made here." New Balance -- which advertises shoes as
"Proudly Made in the U.S.A." -- intends to fight the charges.
Kathy Shepard, New Balance spokesperson: "We believe
(regulators) are trying to take a new position regarding the
footwear industry and make us an example." Shepard said that
"about 70 percent to 75 percent of New Balance's shoe components
are made in the United States, with the rest made in China and
Taiwan." Hyde Athletic -- which promotes its Saucony brand as
being "Built with Pride in Bangor, Maine U.S.A." -- "agreed to
settle the FTC's claim without admitting or denying its charges,
and "will be able to sell its current inventory of shoes with the
U.S.A. labeling" (Sharon Walsh, WASHINGTON POST, 9/21).
THE FEDS: FTC regulations say that to use "the 'Made in the
U.S.A.' label, 'all or virtually all' of the component parts must
be made domestically and 'all or virtually all' of the labor to
assemble them must be performed here." C. Steven Baker, FTC
regional director: "People can make things wherever they want.
They just can't deceive people by saying it's all American made
if it's not" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/21).
DECISIONS NOT UNANIMOUS: FTC regulators voted 3-1 to cite
New Balance and 3-2 "to issue the consent agreement with Hyde."
Mary Azcuenaga, an FTC commissioner who dissented in both cases,
"said she thought the standard for 'Made in the U.S.A.'
assertions was being too strictly interpreted in the Hyde
complaint" (Katherine Hobson, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS
NEWS/PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/21).
LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE: This morning's WALL STREET
JOURNAL reports that New Balance "invited FTC officials to visit
its factories before deciding on charges," but the offer was
declined. Instead, New Balance "mailed a videotape of the
factory process to FTC regulators" (Jeanne Sadler, WALL STREET
In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, Larry Greenberg
reports that institutional shareholders of John Labatt Ltd. are
concerned about the company's overall direction, and "nervous
about the company's plans to get deeper into the sports and
entertainment business." Labatt currently has a varied sports
portfolio that includes the Blue Jays, a stake in the Toronto
SkyDome, and Canada's TSN sports television network -- "which now
generates 'substantial earnings' after years of heavy start-up
costs." Greenberg: "Labatt reckons that making investments in
other sports teams will boost TSN's advertising revenue. It also
wants to take advantage of TSN's expertise by acquiring
additional broadcasting interests." Heather Arnold, partner
with Toronto pension fund manager Knight, Bain, Seath, & Holbrook
said "sports and entertainment are 'glory assets' that enhance
management's profile but return little to shareholders." In a
plan to "allay" shareholders' concerns, Labatt has a plan to sell
49% of its sports and broadcast businesses -- "a move that
analysts estimate could yield proceeds to Labatt of C$500M" and
cut "the company's interest in the Blue Jays to about 20 percent"
(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/21).
ALSO FROM THE JOURNAL ... VIDEO GIANTS READY TO BATTLE:
Sega of America and Nintendo are preparing to "do battle" during
the upcoming holiday season, and both companies -- the nation's
two largest video-game makers -- are embracing different
strategic approaches. Sega will push its new 32X adapter, which
"attaches to [its] Genesis video-game player and transforms it
from a 16-bit machine into a 32-bit unit"; while Nintendo says it
"will offer a more exciting array of software titles." Jeff
Goodby, chairman of Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, Sega's ad
agency: "We've got a product that will make the 15 million Sega
Genesis machines now in place 40 times as fast." Nintendo
VP/Marketing Peter Main: "Our campaign will stress that you
don't have to buy yet more hardware in order to have a great
entertainment experience" (Jeffrey Trachtenberg, WALL STREET
Olympic champions Bob Richards and Bruce Jenner appeared
alongside NFL legend Walter Payton today on "CBS This Morning" to
make the announcement of a "new, improved Wheaties." Bruce
Jenner on being a spokesperson for Wheaties: "It's more exciting
and more difficult to get on the Wheaties box, than it is to get
on the cover of Sports Illustrated." Payton: "It's like being
President of the United States." Jenner: "We're having our
Wheaties breakfast here, this is very exciting" (CBS, 9/21).
GENERAL MILLS BACK ON TRACK: Following General Mills 9%
earnings decline in the 1st fiscal quarter, General Mills Chair
Bruce Atwater said that the company is "back on track" (Sally
Apgar, Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 9/20).