Warner Bros. has been "quietly developing an animated/ live- action full-length feature film" to star Michael Jordan and its Looney Tunes characters. The film is being referred to internally as the "Hare Jordan" project. If all goes as planned, the film will be the first animated project to be produced by Warner Bros "which has been gearing up its animation unit over the past year." The '92 Nike TV ad campaign was called "Hare Jordan." It featured Jordan interacting with Bugs Bunny (DAILY VARIETY, 11/22).
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The Cowboys will debut a new "double star" jersey for the Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers. Developed with NFL Properties, the jersey will not replace the team's traditional uniform, but will be used for special event games such as Kickoff Weekend, Thanksgiving Day, Monday Night Football, and playoff games. The new Cowboys jersey will feature the team's stars on each shoulder, blue sleeves, the player's number in silver, and - - in an NFL first -- the team logo will be added directly above the numbers on the front of the jersey. Numbering on the front and back will be blocked by a blue and white border. Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner and GM: "We felt it was the right time for an NFL team to give its fans a fresh look while not moving away from its traditional uniform." Sara Levinson, President of NFL Properties: "We expect other NFL teams to develop additional uniforms for the future" (NFL).
Retailers around the country are bracing for this coming Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. But with hockey and baseball both out of work today, the leagues, licensees and retailers in the sports industry face unique challenges selling goods to fans who have been denied the product they love most -- the games. Over the last few days, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY surveyed league and licensed apparel executives about their predictions for this holiday season. Highlights of our conversations follow: NFL PROPERTIES: Brian McCarthy, Manager of Corporate Communications: "We think Santa's bag is probably going to be full of NFL licensed merchandise. This season has shown that the NFL has become, and is, the dominant league in terms of fan interest, fan participation, and also back on track in sales of licensed products." According to McCarthy, the NFL traditionally has a strong 4th quarter and is looking for the Pro-Line authentic apparel to move well this year: "With the excitement of the playoffs coming up, you can spend your whole Christmas season, from the end of December to the end of January wearing the product that you got on Christmas." Asked about the work stoppages in other sports, McCarthy was reluctant to predict benefits for the NFL beyond the short-term: "We are all in the same business, and for us to be successful over the long term we need retailers to be excited about licensed products as a whole." NBA PROPERTIES: Jon Stern, Manager of Marketing Communications: "We are really excited about the upcoming holiday season. Traditionally, the NBA doesn't run a lot of 4th quarter promotions, but right now we are doing some regional work with Sears and Target, as well as some national promotions with Foot-Locker and Champs." One consistent seller for the NBA is the Champion replica jersey, and with the emergence of star rookies such as Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, the league "expects some good things out of their replicas." On the work stoppages: "We all feel that we are in this together, and if someone comes to a retailer to buy products from one league, we think that there is a good chance that they will wander over to another area and buy another product from another league." MLB PROPERTIES: Retail Manager Elliot Runyon said that, despite the strike, Major League Baseball believes it has not lost its fan base and predicted that frustrated fans will come back. Although summer is traditionally baseball's strongest period, he said "the end of the fourth quarter has always been a nice peak in the valley." Baseball's biggest push this quarter will be with The Diamond Collection -- authentic jerseys, hats and dugout jackets. The league will also offer its "Fan Appreciation" gifts (special offers designed to thank fans for tolerating the work stoppage), minor league apparel, and Negro League merchandise. NHL PROPERTIES: NHL Dir. of Communications Mary Clarke acknowledged that the work stoppage will clearly affect the sale of NHL goods: "Unfortunately, because of our current labor situation, I must say we are not doing anything special for the season. What we are trying to do is keep all of our family of retailers and licensees on board until we get an agreement with our union." Clarke did say, however, that apparel sales are good, especially sales of authentic jerseys. Clarke: "They are written up as the next hottest sports fashion item, beyond the baseball hat." THE PRO IMAGE: Tom Haraldsen, Dir of Public Relations: "November and December account for, anywhere between 30-40% of the product that we sell in a given year, so the holidays are very critical for us....Fortunately, both the NBA and the NFL are playing." On baseball, Haraldsen noted a "wait- and-see attitude" among both retailers and consumers: "I don't expect Major League Baseball sales are going to be real strong at Christmas time this year." Haraldsen called hockey "up and coming" and noted that NHL sales have not been affected drastically: "The hottest selling items in our stores have been NHL replica jerseys, and they are still being purchased," even though the league is not playing. STARTER: Ian Gomar, VP of Marketing: "We expect our sales of authentic gear and replica products to be very buoyant." Gomar said Starter is obviously disappointed about the work stoppages: "We had a great opportunity and season finale for [MLB]. ... And although we are still selling NHL hockey merchandise, we believe with the games being played, the volume would be at a higher level." LOGO 7: Eddie White, Dir of Public Relations: "It will be a good holiday season for the NFL and for Logo Athletics. Our research shows that our 'shark' designs on the hats and the jackets are expected to move well through the season ... and, only now are our outerwear heavyweight jackets being exposed on the sidelines." On hockey and baseball, White said fans and consumers "are just thinking football," but expressed Logo 7's interest in all getting back to work: "We want the ice to be frozen and we want the grass to be cut, and the players to come back and play." APEX ONE: Dick Venneri, Advertising Manager: "We deal with the Cowboys who make up 30% of all NFL licensed merchandise ... and, the NFL business is as strong as it has ever been, especially with the Cowboys. ... The Patriots are also selling strong for us -- the focus on the team has been more intense and their new logo is helping. The 49ers are also selling well." Venneri believes that work stoppages will not affect sales: "If you are a fan you will still buy the product, regardless of the league. Fan loyalty goes deeper than work stoppages."
The City of Orlando and Entry Media, Inc., have signed an agreement to bring turnstile advertising to the Orlando Arena and the Citrus Bowl. Entry Media is the developer and manufacturer of "Turnstile AdSleeves" -- plastic ad casings for turnstile arms. According to Martin Hering, president of Entry Media, over 50 minor league baseball teams are planning to add the sleeves to their ballparks during the upcoming season, and Network International is currently selling turnstile ad space for their 40 facilities in the United States and Europe (Entry Media).
Owens-Corning announced it has signed headgear contracts for the '94/95 World Cup season with 10 top U.S. and European Freestyle athletes as part of its continued support of Freestyle skiing. The athletes will sport Owens-Corning logos on their headbands throughout the season. The 10 skiers: Trace Worthington, Kristean Porter, Eric Bergoust and Ian Edmundson from the U.S. team; and Richard Cobbing, Oksana Kutschenko, Ljudmila Dymchenko, Elisavet Kozevnikova, Fabien Bertr and Candice Gilg from various European teams. Owens-Corning is a world leader in advanced glass and composite materials. The company has been involved in Freestyle skiing since 1986 (Owens- Corning).
Riddell Sports Inc. reported yesterday that it incurred a pre-tax charge of $4.6M in the 3rdQ ended September 30, as a result of a previously announced jury verdict of $8M rendered against the company in a product liability suit. According to Riddell, before the liability charge, the company had continued to achieve what Riddell called significant operating improvements during the quarter. Riddell plans to appeal the product liability verdict. Riddell is the world's leading manufacturer and reconditioner of football helmets and sells helmets and shoulder pads and other protective equipment under the Riddell and Maxpro brands. The company also licenses the Riddell, Maxpro and MacGregor trademarks for use on athletic footwear, leisure apparel and equipment (Riddell Sports).
According to this week's AD AGE, Dole Food Co. CEO David Murdock was present at meetings with Fox execs and World Golf Tour organizers last week "and indicated extreme interest in sponsorship and advertising opportunities." Reebok Int'l would also be interested, according to Richie Woodward, the President of Reebok's golf division. World Tour organizer Greg Norman has a "lifetime endorsement deal" with Reebok (Jeff Jensen, ADVERTISING AGE, 11/21 issue). DOES SIZE REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?: In an article in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, Stephanie Mehta reports that small sporting goods manufacturers "have found a way to score big sales gains in the product-promotion game," by side-stepping "potentially budget busting tactics" and "consciously steering clear of glitzy player endorsements." Odyssey Sports, for example, "began handing out hundreds of free putters to professional golfers at senior tournaments earlier this year" -- and sales jumped significantly after Jim Albus and Tom Wargo "started winning rounds with their free Odyssey clubs" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/22).
"The gloves are coming off in the battle for sales of sporting goods in Chicago and its suburbs," according to the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES -- with Sportmart and The Sports Authority positioned as the heavy-weight contenders. "For the last 23 years, Niles-based Sportmart, Inc., has been the dominant chain ... but the company, considering itself the pioneer of the sporting-goods superstore concept, faces perhaps its toughest test from The Sports Authority." Sportmart currently operates 17 stores in the Chicagoland area, and has plans for more -- not just in Chicago, but in Cleveland, Columbus, and Canada. The Sports Authority entered the market just over two years ago, has already opened eight stores, and plans to have 20-23 stores in Chicago. Jim Peters, Sportmart's Exec VP for Merchandising: "They are a Sportmart knock-off, there's no question about it." Arnold Sedel, Senior VP of Operations for The Sports Authority: "Sportmart has dominated the market. Now they're having to do things to combat us, just as we have done things to combat them." Sedel does admit, however, that "we really haven't come up against a powerhouse like Sportmart" (Mary Ellen Podmolik, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/21).
Time Warner Interactive yesterday announced the signing of Wayne Gretzky to an exclusive 3-year multi-platform license for a line of interactive hockey products. Additionally, a license has been signed with the NHLPA to provide a game with real player names, profiles and stats. Both licenses provide that Time Warner Interactive develop and distribute for all arcade and consumer systems, including upcoming CD-ROM-based platforms. Time Warner Interactive President Dan Van Elderen: "We could not have found better partners than Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA for our new line of hockey games." Gretzky: "We not only give fans hours of great hockey game-play, but we also reach out to new audiences and introduce them to the sport and excitement of professional hockey." Time Warner Interactive's growing line of sports games includes: the RBI Baseball series, Payne Stewart Pro Golf, Dick Vitale's "Awesome Baby" College Hoops and Kawasaki Super Bike Challenge (Time Warner/NHLPA). NINTENDO EARNINGS AND SALES DROP: This morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that Nintendo Co. has reported a 16% drop in earnings and 36% drop in sales during the fiscal first half, ending September 30. "Nintendo says the declines were due mainly to the yen's recent strength against the dollar, which has eroded the company's competitiveness. But analysts here, saying the results fell within expectations, warn they may reflect deeper problems in the video game industry" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/22).