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Volume 24 No. 117

Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

          The AVP has added two local marketing partners to sell     sponsorships in designated cities along the Miller Lite/AVP     Tour and it has renewed five partnerships for the coming     season.  The two additions are ProServ for the '98 Atlanta     Open and Riber Sports Marketing for the Cincinnati event.      Renewals were confirmed with Kemper Lesnick for the Chicago     event, P.S. StarGames (Las Vegas), Buddy Mallet Productions     (Corpus Christi), the Vail Valley Tourism and Convention     Bureau (Vail) and the Sacramento Capitals (Sacramento).  The     marketing partners are granted exclusive rights to sell     local sponsorships in their market or territory (AVP). 

          While "there are solid reasons" why players "stick with     their corporate partners," that doesn't mean they can't     "sign with a direct competitor," according to Greg Johnson     of the L.A. TIMES.  Williams & Connolly's Lon Babby, the     agent for Grant Hill, who helped negotiate his recent $80M     Fila deal: "There's nothing endemic in an endorsement     contract that prevents movement.  In the vernacular of     sports, you would be a free agent."  Babby said that Hill's     deal "doesn't include a non-compete clause" and that any     such language "would push up the value of an endorsement     contract."  Babby: "That is going to be factored in, because     you're talking about tying up a significant portion of a pro     athlete's playing career."  Babby added, however, that Hill     "recognizes that continuity benefits both sides."  While     Johnson noted that some "well-known names have jumped ship     to sign with a direct competitor," including Michael Jordan     from Coca-Cola to Gatorade and Chris Webber from Nike to     Fila, such a switch "can backfire."  Consumers may view     switches with "cynicism," figuring players are looking to     simply "grab a bigger bag of money," while corporate     sponsors may not forgive an athlete who "jumps ship to pitch     a competing product" (L.A. TIMES, 9/25).

          NFL: OH-based Custom Edge has been licensed by the NFL
     to produce new seven-inch bean-filled plush animals dressed
     in NFL jerseys.  They will be distributed nationally in mid-
     October (NFL).  The NFL also announced that over 3,000
     parents and children have attended inaugural Kmart NFL
     Family Days this month in Jacksonville, Dallas and DC. The
     Family Days include stadium tours, skills clinics and
     autographs sessions.  Children registered in August for the
     chance to be selected to attend.  Upcoming family days will
     be in Charlotte, Oakland, New York and Detroit (NFL). 
          NASCAR: Racing Champions Corp., marketer of die-cast
     racing vehicle replicas and adult collectibles, announced a
     new multi-year licensing deal with Bill Elliott.  Elliott
     will appear in the company's first-ever TV commercial
     (Racing Champions).  Elliott also joined Union 76, Circle K
     convenience stores and Phoenix Int'l Raceway in kicking-off
     "76/NASCAR Month" throughout Arizona (Tosco Marketing Co.). 
          GENERAL: Lou Holtz will be the voice of new PSAs
     supporting the "America's Promise" mentoring initiative,
     which will run during CBS' weekend college football coverage
     (CBS Sports)....Sources say the while the MLS Revolution's
     "attempt to acquire" the Clash's Eric Wynalda was "negated"
     by the league, Reebok, which sponsors the Revolution, is
     "promoting" Wynalda and wants to bring him to a "successful
     team next season" (Frank Dell'Apa, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/26).

          The ABL and Nike have entered into a media partnership     for the '97-98 season.  Nike will feature two of its ABL     athletes -- Dawn Staley of the Rage and Jennifer Rizzotti of     the Blizzard -- in a TV ad campaign for girls and women who     play basketball.  Nike also plans to use the two ABL players     in a print campaign during the upcoming season (ABL).  In     Hartford, Bruce Berlet reports that the 30-second spots will     begin airing this winter during ABL broadcasts on BET and     Fox Sports Net.  Nike Business Manager for Women's Sports     Marketing Sandi Bittler: "This agreement with the ABL means     Nike can extend its support for women's basketball through     advertising year-round" (HARTFORD COURANT, 9/26).  Nike is     also an official partner of the WNBA and signed a marketing     deal with the league in February of '97 (THE DAILY).