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Volume 24 No. 156

Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

          CBS' "60 Minutes" profiled Nike and adidas' involvement
     with high school basketball players in "There's No Business
     Like Shoe Business."  CBS' Lesley Stahl: "Nobody, not the
     Bulls, the Lakers or the Knicks, is more interested in
     finding the next Michael Jordan than Nike.  ... So Nike, and
     its competitors like adidas, are searching the country. 
     Searching for the hot NBA rookies, putting their shoes on
     the best college seniors.  But what amazed us, is that
     they're also going after basketball babies."  adidas' Sonny
     Vaccaro said that shoe companies start recruiting players
     when they're "eight, nine, ten, eleven-year-olds."  Vaccaro,
     on what adidas gets out of finding a promising ten-year-old
     basketball player: "What you do, is you bring this person
     along, and hopefully he stays in the family."  Stahl: "And
     then all the kids in the country will wear adidas?" 
     Vaccaro: "That would be very nice."  Stahl: "Nike and adidas
     have turned the summertime into a huge basketball bazaar,
     spending millions of dollars to corral every kid with a
     decent jump shot, betting that one or two of them will
     develop into superstars -- and human billboards."  High
     school basketball talent scout Bob Gibbons, on the shoe wars
     over high school students and the high school summer camps:
     "It's way out of control, and I don't know how you get it
     back in control" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 10/26).      
          NIKE'S TAKE: Stahl asked Nike Dir of Global Basketball 
     Ralph Greene on its mission in supporting youngsters: "It's
     important for us to provide wonderful opportunities for kids
     who play great basketball. ... It's a very simple formula
     for us.  And it really does start with performing, and being
     passionate about the game first, and the athletes first." 
     Stahl, in response to Reed: "Selling shoes first."  Reed:
     "No, no, no, no, no.  It's the game first, then the passion
     for the game and understanding what athletes want." 
     Gibbons, asked about Reed's "passionate about the game"
     statement: "I don't see them giving their product away to
     schools that do not have good players ... they love the
     schools that have the top players the best" (CBS, 10/26). 

          In FL, entrepreneur Dennis Valdez launched his Blue
     Marlin Beer six weeks ago and "immediately" sold out 1,500
     cases, and now "can't keep Blue Marlin Beer in stock."  Levy
     Restaurants and Pro Player Stadium began offering Blue
     Marlin Beer during the playoffs and served it at the club
     level during the World Series (SUN-SENTINEL, 10/25).
     ...Dennis Rodman, who wears Converse, said that he "doubts"
     he will wear his new Nike shooting shirt (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES,
     10/25)....About 300 women are expected at a soldout
     "Football 101 for Ladies" class at Foxboro Stadium on
     Wednesday (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/26). "Extra" profiled the NFL's
     "Football 101 for Ladies" on Friday ("Extra," 10/24).  

          A coalition of women's groups, which includes NOW and
     the Ms. Foundation for Women, "has attacked Nike as
     hypocritical" for running new TV commercials that feature
     female athletes, while alleging the company pays "its
     largely female overseas work force poorly," according to
     Steven Greenhouse of the N.Y. TIMES.  In a letter to Nike
     CEO Phil Knight, the coalition wrote, "While the women who
     wear Nike shoes in the United States are encouraged to
     perform their best, the Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese
     women making the shoes often suffer from inadequate wages,
     corporal punishment, forced overtime and/or sexual
     harassment."  Nike Labor Issues spokesperson Vada Manager
     said the women's groups "misunderstood Nike's role."  In
     Asia, its factories "pay considerably more than do most
     factories in those countries."  The commercials "show women
     saying they will be stronger, healthier and more independent
     if they are allowed to play sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). 
     USA TODAY's Dottie Enrico reports that the 15 women's
     organizations will hold a press conference Tuesday "urging"
     Knight to "increase wages and hire an independent local
     investigator" at Nike overseas factories (USA TODAY, 10/27).

          The NBA is "now negotiating new four-year TV contracts"
     which could net the league "up to" 50% more than its current
     rights deals with NBC and Turner Sports, according to Jeff
     Jensen of AD AGE.  NBA Exec VP/CMO Rick Welts: "The outcome
     of our television negotiations will determine how we will
     market ourselves over the next four years."  Jensen adds
     that "many" of the league's current sponsorship deals,
     including McDonald's, Quaker Oats and Gatorade, "expire at
     the end of this season."  But for NBA sponsors, a 50%
     increase in TV rights fees "will affect the cost of doing
     business with the NBA."  Gatorade VP/Worldwide Sports
     Marketing Bill Schmidt: "We're always concerned about
     increases in sports TV rights fees because we all know who
     will pay for that."  While NBC charged "an estimated"
     $80,000 for 30-second spots last season, up about 15% from
     '95, Turner will charge $19,000-20,000 per 30-second spot
     this season.  But Jensen adds that "marketers will still buy
     the NBA because it delivers the demographics they need:
     teen-age and young adult males."  Gatorade's Schmidt: "The
     NBA remains very hot with our consumers."  The NBA's Welts
     added that the NBA will again "bundle" promo rights with TV
     time, but he added that the TV networks are "taking
     advertiser concerns into consideration," and that "it's
     possible that there will be fewer units available in the new
     packages, as they may include fewer games" (AD AGE, 10/27).