Ameritech on Friday dropped its sponsorship of the WTA
Tour's Chicago event, according to Len Ziehm of the CHICAGO
SUN-TIMES. Ameritech informed tournament owner IMG that it
would not renew its three-year agreement to sponsor the
tournament known most recently as the Ameritech Cup. Though
a new sponsorship agreement was not announced, IMG Senior
VP/Tournament Manager Gary Swain said the tournament "will
continue on an annual basis." Swain: "Everything is going
to be fine. We will sign a new sponsor. Several companies
are very interested" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/22).
IBM has returned as sole sponsor of the NFL's
Superbowl.com site on the World Wide Web in a $1M rights
deal "believed to be the largest in the short history" of
the Web, according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. The deal,
which was "sold through" NBC "requires considerably more
support" from IBM than in past years. Sources said that
agency Ogilvy & Mather, NY, will produce ads leveraging the
site "as a platform to push its Web commerce business." IBM
will produce the site, which was handled by Starwave last
year. NBC will back with on-air promos. Last year's Super
Bowl site generated more than 8 million hits, making it one
of the Web's most visited sites. Lefton adds that NFLP "has
been pursuing IBM for years as a corporate sponsor and its
execs consider getting the computer giant aboard and active,
even at a smaller level, a potential stepping stone to a
broader and more official relationship" (BRANDWEEK, 11/24).
NIKE: Under the headline "This is 'The Right Thing,"
NEWSDAY's Steve Jacobson called on Nike's top athletes "to
take Magic Johnson's lead in community investment and break
away" from Nike and start a shoe company that would employ
U.S. workers. Jacobson: "[Michael] Jordan is the Pied Piper
leading kids to sneakers at $140 and more. His nod to
conscience is to announce that his next model will come out
on Saturday so kids don't skip school" (NEWSDAY, 11/23).
Also in N.Y., Harvey Araton examined criticism aimed at Nike
at the collegiate/university level and added that Jordan
seems to be "looking into" allegations of Nike's labor
abuses "the way Dennis Rodman is looking into having his
tattoos removed. Whenever the heat is put on the marketing
tandem of Jordan and Nike, they usually rush to the studio
and make another commercial" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/22).
GEARING UP: In the initial hours after the NHL Columbus
Blue Jackets debuted their new name and logo, JCPenney
stores showed a 128% increase in sales in its "Simply for
Sports" department. After one week, the store's sales were
up 32%, the highest total for JCPenney throughout the U.S.
during this period (NHL). NHL Enterprises President Rick
Dudley: "We see these same strong merchandise sales figures
during the Stanley Cup playoffs" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/22).
NOTES: The T-Wolves Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury
have shot a commercial for ESPN Magazine. The two "gush
about the new publication but ask ESPN to resist publishing
a swimsuit issue." Garnett then looks into the camera and
says, "Totally nude" (STAR TRIBUNE, 11/24)....European Union
Health Commissioner Padraig Flynn said Britain's insistence
on exempting Formula One racing from any ban on tobacco
sponsorship in sports "was impossible," strengthening the
possibility that some European races "could be dropped from
the Grand Prix circuit" (AP/INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 11/21).
Foot Locker has divided its $25M ad account, according
to AD AGE. The Foot Locker account will be divided among
Deutsch, which gets the flagship Foot Locker brand;
Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, which takes Lady Foot Locker;
and Griffin Bacal, which gets Kids Foot Locker. Foot
Locker's Champs business remains unassigned. Foot Locker
and the agencies declined comment (AD AGE, 11/24).
Pizza Hut officials in MD "altered their pizza giveaway
promotion" around the Ravens because they were "nervous"
about the Cardinals offensive line, according to Steve
Schoenfeld of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. After customers
received $9 off a large pizza after nine sacks by the Ravens
last week, Pizza Hut said it wouldn't pay for more than five
sacks on Sunday because the Cardinals have allowed an NFL-
leading 54 sacks on the season. The Cardinals' "much-
maligned line" gave up only two sacks in their 16-13 victory
over the Ravens. Cards OT Lomas Brown: "They thought they
were going to have a field day with us. At least the Pizza
people are happy with us" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/24).