WHERE WILL THE SPONSORS GO AFTER THE LABOR STRIFE?
This morning's USA TODAY looks at where major sports
sponsors will spend their money in the future. "Off-the-field
labor disputes threaten to unravel the marketing plans of
companies that are planning to spend an estimated" $2.9B this
year on pro sports sponsorships. Nike, which earlier this year
announced an NHL sponsorship, "now says it is no longer content
to make team sports its marketing base." Nike Dir of Advertising
Joe McCarthy says the company may lean toward "sports that stress
individual athletics," like running and tennis. Coca-Cola last
had a national baseball promotion in '93, but they will not plan
a similar event for '95 "unless it is certain a season will be
played." Thrifty Car Rental "quietly ended" its 6-year
relationship with the NHL shortly after the season was postponed.
Thrifty's VP/Marketing Bob Dimmick insists the lockout "was just
a minor ripple" in that decision. MCI, a major MLB sponsor,
"will look closely at the angry reaction the sports received from
more than 2,000 fans" MCI polled earlier this month. Tadd Seitz,
chair of Scotts, a lawn and garden supply company and a baseball
sponsor, said his company "will follow the fans" (Bruce Horovitz,
USA TODAY, 10/31).
WHAT THE TEAMS FACE: As baseball enters its "money season,"
which includes selling ticket plans and advertising for next
season, Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST writes, "It has become
survival of the fittest for baseball. For the popular successful
teams, the going has not yet been all that tough. Season ticket
holders and would-be advertisers know that if they relinquish
their place, others are waiting to jump in. But for struggling
franchises, it's a different story." Advertisers are also wary.
Dennis Lehman, the Indians Exec VP/Business, on advertisers:
"They want some assurances, even more so than our ticket-
holders." Maske notes that major baseball advertisers, such as
beer and car companies, have "plenty of other places to put their
ads" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/29).