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Volume 24 No. 115

Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

     The marketing and endorsement success of the NBA and its
players is examined by Dwain Price of the FORT WORTH STAR-
TELEGRAM.  Price writes that "although the NBA is the epitome of
a star system, it's not the league that pushes individual
clients."  NBAP Dir of Marketing Communications Peter Land:  "We
are more about marketing the game as opposed to (marketing) any
specific players. ... We're not in the business of selecting one
player over another."  Land gives the example of the recent
McDonald's "Looney Tunes" ad, where the list of players involved
came from McDonald's.  Players rely on their agents to set up
endorsements, and "timing is everything in the endorsement game."
Price examines the endorsement success of certain NBA players.
Among them, Co-Rookie of the Year award winner Jason Kidd, who
will be the focus of a campaign by Nike.  Tom Feuer, Manager of
Public Relations for Nike, said the company is planning a debut
at the All-Star Game next year for a shoe called "Air Zoom" which
will have a TV campaign featuring Kidd (FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM,
5/28).
     NO PINWHEELS?  In New York, Ira Berkow writes on a "dizzying
dilemma for the NBA," where the league is trying to crack down on
"mind-altering distractions" in the arena, such as pinwheel
placards.  Berkow: "But the broader issue is just how much one
can get away with in a basketball arena.  Obviously, these fans
have taken their cues from the marketing departments ... It is a
moronic concept -- that hoops must be secondary to a circus --
but one that has spread like a skunk smell" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/30).

     The marketability of 15-year old tennis star Venus Williams
is examined by Julie Cart in the L.A. TIMES.  Williams has been
pursued by management companies, but Cart reports on "speculation
that her father, Richard Williams, is trying to package a deal
that includes his youngest daughter, Serena."  Williams last week
signed a multi-year contract with Reebok, whose interest "stems
from the publicity she generates as a teen-ager and a player of
enormous promise.  And as that rarest of tennis players -- an
African American."  Cart writes "tennis officials and marketers
alike have quit disguising their glee at the prospect of fresh
blood."  Cart:  "What remains is for Williams to rise above her
hype and those who would seek to exploit her in the guise of
helping her.  Including, unfortunately, her parents. ... How
wonderful that tennis finally has an African-American in the
spotlight.  How awful that she's only 15" (L.A. TIMES, 5/28).

     Sun Bowl Exec Dir Tom Starr is confident the Dec. 29 bowl
game in El Paso, TX will be played and said that the game is
close to signing a corporate sponsor (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,
5/27)....The Knicks took out a full-page ad in this morning's NEW
YORK TIMES to thank fans for their support.  The header reads:
"You're the best fans in the NBA, New York."  The bottom of the
ad gives the telephone number of the Knicks Fan Line presented by
AT&T (N.Y. TIMES, 5/30)....This week's USA TODAY Ad Track
examines the Candice Bergen ad for Sprint.  52% of those surveyed
say the ad touting Sprint's "flat rates" are effective.  USA
TODAY's Dottie Enrico writes that Sprint is benefiting from the
"mud-slinging strategies of" larger opponents AT&T and MCI (USA
TODAY, 5/30)....NBA Jam video game will hit an estimated $170M in
sales for '94, and is ranked #3 in Top Video Game sales in '94
(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/30 issue).

     International manufacturing of athletic shoes -- and Reebok
in particular -- is profiled in this week's U.S. NEWS, with the
report detailing how shoe companies move from one Asian site to
another in search of low-cost labor.  Ten years ago nearly all of
Reebok's manufacturing took place in South Korea and Taiwan, but
as the countries become more productive, wages increased.  Reebok
then "began shifting out of South Korea and Taiwan, moving its
operations to cheaper markets."  Today, most of the work is being
done in China, Indonesia and Thailand, with only 9% being made in
South Korea, and none in Taiwan.  Footwear companies are moving
manufacturing plants, because "fluctuations in labor costs can
have a signing impact on a sneaker maker's bottom line."  A $70
pair of Reebok's cost $20 to make in East Asia, but after
operating expenses the "sneaker company's profit is just over $6.
New Balance is seen as "sneaking up on its rivals."  New Balance
"clings to four of the five remaining factories in the [U.S.]
that actually cut and stitch athletic shoes" and being one of
"the nation's last domestic sneaker makers has turned into a
marketing boon."  Worldwide sales jumped 25% last year to $310M
and the company will use money from what it saves in its no
endorsement and reduced ad strategy ($6M a year, compared to
Nike's $200M) to expand output (U.S. NEWS, 6/5 issue).

     The Sports Authority has reached a deal to buy out Atlanta-
based SportsTown, Inc., "its biggest competitor in metro
Atlanta," according to Matt Kempner of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.
The agreement needs to be approved by a majority of SportsTown's
250 creditors and U.S. Bankruptcy Court, "which has been
overseeing the retailer's reorganization since February."  The
deal could "also be overridden by sweeter bids that may be
offered by other retailers eyeing SportsTown's inventory and
store leases."  The Sports Authority Chair Jack Smith said if the
buyout goes through, all 23 SportsTown stores would be "closed
quickly; at least 16 would reopen under the TSA name by the end
of the year."  Smith said the buyout "strengthens us in a very
important market like Atlanta and puts us in Texas" (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 5/27).  The deal would also provide The Sports
Authority with a presence in OK.  The Fort Lauderdale-based
company operates 110 stores in 22 states.  SportsTown is in TX,
OK, GA, NC and SC (MIAMI HERALD, 5/27).