On last night's "Entertainment Tonight," John Tesh reported
that baseball advertisers "are laying off the sport like an in-
the-dirt screwball." David Anaucci, Account Supervisor for the
Tri-State GMC Dealers, said his company spent more than $1M on
baseball advertising in the NYC area, but will not spend any
money this year: "It becomes a credibility issue." Tesh said
Gillette, a national sponsor since '39, is "watching with a wait
and see attitude." Michael Nadelberg, VP of Marketing for
Gillette: "Our goal is to bring the Gillette message to as many
people as possible. If that is an empty viewership, it does not
help us accomplish our goals." According to Michael Jacobsen,
Editor of SPORTING GOODS DEALER, baseball apparel sales dropped
from $3B a year before the strike to $2B this year. Dodgers
announcer Vin Scully: "Even if the attendance is off 80 percent.
And even if commercials on radio and television is off, the
industry will make some money, and it will survive"
("Entertainment Tonight," 3/21).
It may be some time before fans will see a full line of
Devil Ray products, according to this morning's ST. PETERSBURG
TIMES. Although Tampa-St. Pete area stores are reporting strong
sales of hats and other merchandise, some manufacturers are
waiting for the team to make a final decision on their name,
between Devil and Manta Ray, which is expected to take a few more
weeks. Also, some are "holding off on production of baseball-
related products" due to the strike (Lara Wozniak, ST. PETERSBURG
"The upheaval over adding a male crew member of Mighty
Mary's formerly all-female America's Cup crew appears to have
settled into business as usual," according to Barbara Lloyd in
this morning's N.Y. TIMES. Stephen McAvoy, a marketing manger
for Chevrolet, said he was "impressed by the women's resolve to
win the America's Cup": "They came here with the idea of winning
the America's Cup, and not to be just an all-women's team, thank
you very much." Chuck Townsend, publisher of GLAMOUR, another
America3 sponsor, said he thought it was smart to add someone as
experienced as Dave Dellenbaugh, the crew's new tactician.
Townsend: "If the women win the America's Cup, you'll find very
few of us sponsors criticizing this thing." However Lifetime
Television is re-evaluating its sponsorship. Lifetime President
Doug McCormick: "If they win, certainly the story will be one
that people will pay more attention to. But I wish, frankly,
that they could win in the original configuration that we
discussed. ... I guess you could call it a trimming of our own
sails as to the actual nuts and bolts of our contract" (N.Y.
TIMES, 3/22). Women's Sports Foundation Exec Dir Donna Lopiano:
"I have nothing but applause for Bill Koch. What other guy ever
gave women that chance in the America's Cup" (USA TODAY, 3/22).
Lexus has announced that they will sponsor a golf tournament
hosted by Raymond Floyd. The $1M Lexus Challenge will feature
golf's greatest players and celebrity stars (Lexus)....Atrigon
Golf Inc. and Nick Price have announced that they will develop a
line of advanced-technology golf clubs (Atrigon Golf)....ITT
Corp. plans to sell as much as 19.9% of ITT Sheraton's franchised
hotel operations (REUTERS/N.Y. TIMES, 3/22)....Ticket brokers in
Beverly Hills and New York have filed lawsuits against FedEx as a
result of Super Bowl tickets being stolen earlier this year
(MIAMI HERALD, 3/21)....Cub Foods has agreed to become a "major
sponsor" of the Twin Cities Marathon, offering at least $50,000
in cash and in-kind services. Cremette Co. extended its official
pasta commitment for another five years, and the Northwest health
clubs and a sports drink named XLR8 also signed on as sponsors.
Cub Foods joins WCCO-AM and the University of MN Health System as
"major" sponsors (Curt Brown, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/21).
"After what's happened" lately to John Labatt Ltd., "the
possibility of a takeover has diminished or, at the very least,
the price tag has come down," writes Peter Hadekel of the
Montreal GAZETTE. The company reported this month that it took a
3rdQ writedown of C$272M on the asset value of its investment in
a Mexican brewery because of the peso's collapse. Another C$110M
could be written off in the current quarter if the peso does not
recover. Michael Palmer, an analyst with Equity Research
Associations: "The takeover rumors are still out there." But the
company's main strategy remains a plan to sell off non-core
holdings, including the Blue Jays, SkyDome and sports cable
network, TSN. There has been speculation that Labatt would like
to sell a stake in TSN to ESPN, which is 80% owned by Cap
Cities/ABC. But Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion analyst Jacques
Kavafian said there is "zero" interest in these properties and
that TSN has "peaked in terms of its earnings power and growth
potential." The Jays' value is uncertain while the sport is on
strike (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/22).
Roller Hockey Int'l (RHI), a 20-team in-line skating hockey
league, is set to begin its second season. RHI COO David
McLande: "The key this year will be our marketing. We'd like to
see a lot of sampling of the game because if people see it, they
like it -- and they come back." The league has initial
agreements to sell sponsorship packages, including signs, ads
during games carried on ESPN and ESPN2, patches on player
uniforms and tickets. Cap Cities/ABC, part owner of ESPN, owns
an undisclosed stake in the league. The first two of a planned
four-six sponsorships have been sold at $400,000 each to two
units of PepsiCo: Pepsi-Cola and Taco Bell. Pepsi-Cola's
VP/Media & Entertainment Marketing Rick Rock said they were
intrigued by the "kids playing in driveways and parking lots and
playgrounds": "It's a grass-roots type of opportunity, and we
like that." EMCI, a marketing consulting company that
specializes in entertainment promotions, is working with RHI in
pairing sponsors with the league (Stuart Elliott, N.Y. TIMES,
Three consumer groups yesterday launched a campaign to fight
what they call "unfair ticketing practices" by ticket agencies.
The groups seek legislation to cap service fees, force agencies
to disclose surcharges and make sports, concerts, plays and other
events more accessible to the public. Maura Brueger, Exec Dir of
Consumers Against Unfair Ticketing (CAUT): "The entertainment-
ticketing industry is one of the least consumer-friendly
industries in the country, providing consumers with no choice, no
information and unreasonable charges." CAUT held a joint press
conference yesterday with representatives of the U.S. Public
Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the Consumer Federation
of America. CAUT was formed following the '94 dispute between
Pearl Jam and Ticketmaster. A U.S. PIRG study of 80 recent
events nationwide said TicketMaster added an average of 27% in
fees to ticket prices. But Judy Black, Senior VP at
TicketMaster, said the company's per-ticket fee averaged only
about 12% over the last five years. But U.S. PIRG's Bill Wood
said TicketMaster does not include handling charges in their per-
ticket fee percentage, which brings it to 27% (Jacqueline Gaulin,
WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/22).
OTHER TICKETMASTER NEWS: According to this morning's N.Y.
TIMES, TicketMaster is considering getting into the airline
ticketing business. TicketMaster CEO Fred Rosen is said to be
considering a possible alliance with American Express for the new
venture (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
Look for General Mills to "move quickly" with Michael Jordan
promotions, writes George Lazarus of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
Wheaties' sales have been "soft" in recent months, and according
to stock analyst John McMillin, Jordan's return is "just in time"
for the brand. For the final quarter of '94, Wheaties retail
sales were down 5.7% in units and 4.1% in dollar volume.
Wheaties' market share of the $8B ready-to-eat cereal business is
a "meager" 1.2% versus 6.5% in the late '60s. "The brand
obviously needs help, and perhaps" with Jordan back on the
package, Wheaties can increase its market share. Jordan appears
in a current Wheaties ad "reflecting product reformulation, but
he doesn't have top billing." General Mills will not say, but a
new TV ad "totally focused on Jordan and his basketball wizardry
would appear to be in the cards." Jordan's return to the
Wheaties box mark the 13th time he has been on the front panel.
No other athlete has come close to his number of appearances on
the Wheaties box. In other Jordan news, Champion Products, a
division of Sara Lee, says the company has received orders for
more than 20,000 dozen NBA-approved Bulls No. 45 jerseys.
Champion is the only firm authorized to produce this jersey by
the NBA (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/21).
STOCK WATCH: ESPN's "NBA Today" reported that in the period
from March 8-20, McDonald's stock was up 2 1/8, General Mills up
2, Sara Lee up 1 1/2, Nike up 7/8, and Quaker Oats up 3/4 (ESPN,