Benetton, parent of Prince Sports Group, launched its first
ad for the company's SportsSystem division, which sells skis, ski
boots, snowboards, tennis racquets, in-line skates and sports
apparel. The campaign, created by Olivier Toscani, Creative Dir
for Benetton Group, runs with the theme, "Do You Play Life?" The
costs is estimated at $27M and the campaign will run through
summer of '96 (AD AGE ONLINE, 7/21). Benetton is planning a
public offering in '97 (GOLF SHOP OPERATIONS PRO REPORT, 7/21).
Promoter Sonny Vaccaro, credited with once helping Nike
corner the market on basketball stars, is now working to help
Adidas boost its basketball marketability. He is profiled in the
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER under the headline, "Promoter's shift opens
new front in sneaker wars."
HISTORY: Vaccaro worked for Nike in promoting their line to
players, coaches, and schools until he was fired because he
started "a sideline as a marketing representative for a number of
ballplayers." Now he "wants the sports future stars to start
thinking about Adidas." Vaccaro is responsible for paying top
dollars to college coaches who outfit their teams in Adidas,
providing gear to high school teams with big basketball programs,
offering cash for traveling expenses to amateur programs not
affiliated with schools, and sponsoring "some of the most
competitive youth teams" in New York, Chicago and Memphis.
ADIDAS ON THE RISE? Faye Landes, an analyst for Smith
Barney, said that Adidas' product development "has been strong,"
and that their grass-roots approach "has been successful." Mike
Jensen of the INQUIRER writes at the high school and amateur
level, the "hot competition right now is between Nike and Adidas.
... Insiders say that for all its resources, Nike is at a
disadvantage now, that nobody comes close to Vaccaro's network."
For the first time, the companies have held their basketball
camps simultaneously to "showcase" their talents, which Vaccaro
said was done purposely to force players to choose between
companies. Adidas currently has John Starks, Dikembe Mutombo and
Detlef Schrempf as their main endorsers, but "the future looks
brighter." St. John's sophomore Felipe Lopez is close to
Vaccaro, and while Vaccaro said there was no certainty that Lopez
would join Adidas, he speaks of the "great marketing potential
the native of the Dominican Republic has in Latin America."
Vaccaro is also looked as a key component in Adidas' push to sign
Rasheed Wallace, as he has expressed interest in Adidas. With a
deal, Wallace is looking for "a pile of money," as well as stock
options and personal input in the product (Mike Jensen,
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/21).
NIKE STILL IN MIX TO MOVE AAU: Charlotte officials, in
their bid to lure the AAU national HQs away from Indianapolis,
have "turned to Coca-Cola Bottling Co. to secure more financial
backing," according to the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Their
move follows Nike's decision to scale back its investment in
Charlotte's bid for the AAU. Nike's support will mostly be in-
kind contributions, such as shoes and equipment, but a capital
investment is not yet out of the question. NationsBank Exec VP
Bill Covington: "We're still talking to them -- they haven't
said, 'Hell, no.' But we need some cash from somewhere" (Spanberg
& Gott, CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/24).
Tommy Armour Golf Co. is undergoing a "major expansion of
its sales force," including the hiring of two new regional sales
managers, Jim Grundberg and Dave Tobin. Armour also plans to
change their sales management to include four regional sales
managers and a national accounts manager. The company hopes the
move will allow it to "execute a grass-roots sales and marketing
effort in all regions of the country."....Gary McKennas has
decided leave as Dir of U.S. Sales for Golf at Spalding Sports
Worldwide for VP/Sales of the Americas at MacGregor Golf. McKenna
is reportedly "one of the golf industry's more respected
executives."....Fred Perry Sportswear, a manufacturer of tennis
apparel, has been purchased by Action Sports Group and will
target a new golf line. Jeff Kohr, newly named President, said
they plan to introduce a Perry Golf line as early as January '96
(GSO PRO REPORT, 7/21).
Princeton Electronic Billboards (PEB) of Princeton, NJ, has
pioneered the concept of video insertion technology -- inserting
ads into the backgrounds of television broadcasts. While these
ads are clear to viewers, they cannot be seen by fans at the
site. Comcast Cable, which produces Double-A Trenton Thunder
games, is the only broadcaster currently using the system.
However, PEB recently tested the system during a Marlins/Sunshine
Network telecast, and is in negotiations with several teams and
broadcasters. THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke with PEB Dir of
Marketing Sam McCleery about the state of the technology, the
progress PEB has had selling the system and challenges the
company faces. TECHNOLOGY: The video insertion system
places video material into a live broadcast in real-time by
memorizing features in a scene and placing images on that area.
Players and objects pass in front of the image as if it was a
permanent fixture. The images are brought to life by a machine
that takes a live feed from a broadcast and inserts the image.
McCleery says that unlike "burn-ins," or superimposed
advertising, the video insertion system does not place any
limitations on broadcast production -- camera angles are not
compromised with the fear that a burn-in will cover a player's
face or part of the action. The PEB machine is described as the
"size of three VCR's stacked" on top of each other. However,
fans won't see an electronic billboard on their favorite NFL QB
anytime soon -- the technology is limited to non-moving objects.
ADVANTAGES: One of the greatest advantages of the system,
according to McCleery, is the ability to localize or regionalize
advertising. Through the system, advertisers may purchase time
on an electronic billboard for specific audiences. If GM buys
time on a national baseball broadcast behind home plate, the
video insertion system allows GM and the broadcaster to send
different messages to different regions. For example, a
Chevrolet Trucks ad could appear in Dallas, with a local dealer
while a local Buick ad may appear in Detroit. McCleery: "It's
intended to add value ... you can derive or generate more revenue
out of that space because you are allowing many different
advertisers to access the same space at the same time."
CHALLENGES: The system has only been used four times, two
tests in Trenton, one test in Florida and once using real ads for
Comcast. Marlins VP/Broadcasting Dean Jordan told THE DAILY that
while the team did test the system, "there are a lot of bugs to
be worked out" and the team has no immediate plans to employ the
technology. Jordan said issues such as cost, league rules and
copyrights need to be worked out before it can be used in MLB.
WHAT ABOUT JOE FAN? Fan reaction has yet to be fully
gauged. Ed Pardini of Comcast told THE DAILY that fan and
advertiser reaction was generally positive for the one Trenton
broadcast. Pardini estimates that a video insertion ad for one-
half inning costs around 1.5 times what a one 30-second ad costs
on Comcast. Comcast plans on using the technology in Thunder
games for the rest of the season. Pardini: "This is a way that
program producers can increase their advertising revenues without
making the broadcast look as though it is jam-packed with
THE FUTURE: McCleery said his system has the potential to
make games more enjoyable for viewers both at home and at the
stadium. McCleery: "It has the advantage of possibly shortening
the games. Less [TV] advertising can cut the game time down and
keep the revenue the same. Also, because it's only seen by the
viewing audience, you can keep areas of the stadium, the tennis
court and so forth, signage-free." Dean Jordan of the Marlins,
on the possible impact of the system on the marketplace: "This
has the potential to be a big one" (THE DAILY).
Monica Seles continues to wear Fila apparel despite the
company's $3M suit against her for breach of contract. The
Italian sports shoe and apparel company "bizarrely finds itself
in court seeking to unhitch itself from its star just when that
star is shining brightest in hype heaven," according to Roger
Thurow of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The suit stems from Seles'
27-month absence from the WTA Tour, as Fila said it was advised
Seles would return on three different occasions and spent
millions to prepare and advertise new apparel lines. Fila claims
to have lost more than $3M in potential sales. But Seles
"pointedly drapes herself in Fila T-shirts as she practices and
promotes her return, defiantly refuting the breach of contract
charges." During her absence, Seles was not paid by Fila, or
racquet sponsor, Yonex, but her relationship with Yonex is more
"harmonious" than that with Fila. Yet, there may be a chance for
a "happy reconciliation." Fila, "despite its words and actions,"
hasn't yet decided whether to "drop its suit against Seles and
re-woo her should see really resume her career this time" (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 7/21).