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Volume 24 No. 156

Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

          Leveraging its $24M-a-year NFL corporate sponsorship
     and "looking to drive its core Sprint Sense long-distance
     service, Sprint is readying its most aggressive promotional
     stunt to date, a phone card blowout backed" by $6M-plus in
     media, according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK.   Sprint will
     offer 32 10-minute phone cards, each with the likeness of a
     ticket from a Super Bowl game.  Consumers switching to
     Sprint will receive four free phone cards and an extra four
     cards every four months after that.  Lefton adds the promo's
     "resulting signup volume likely will help Sprint determine
     whether its renews the big-ticket deal" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15).
          NOTE: Coors is "preparing an assault promo" on next
     year's MLB All-Star Game that will give one fan a chance at
     hitting a home run for the reward of $10M.  Sources say
     Coors will hold the event at Coors Field the day after the
     All-Star Game on July 7, with "expected participation" from
     Nolan Ryan.  Terry Lefton adds that the Coors contest "is
     the first in what will doubtless be numerous assaults on
     official game sponsors because of a discordant lineup of
     official sponsors (like Bud) and Rockies sponsors (Coors). 
     The Rockies also boast Coke, versus MLB's Pepsi; US West to
     MLB's MCI, and Visa to MLB's MasterCard" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15).

          OH-based Goodyear "is no longer leading the tire race,"
     after being "overtaken in two of the world's three major
     circuits" by TN-based Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., according
     to David Adams of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL.  Adams: "In
     head-to-head competition, Goodyear is getting run over. 
     Pulling out of Formula 1, and getting beaten in the two
     major Indy car circuits, Goodyear can rely -- at least for a
     while -- on its exclusive supplier agreement with the three-
     most popular NASCAR series, including" the Winston Cup.  The
     company's Winston Cup deal expires after the '99 season, and
     a renewal "could prove costly as other tire makers lick
     their chops at the chance to get in on the NASCAR marketing
     juggernaut."  Goodyear, however, "says it will do what it
     has to do to maintain its long-standing relationship with
     NASCAR" and the company's engineered products division has
     just signed a licensing agreement to be NASCAR's official
     supplier of belts and hoses (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/14).

          RACING: Thorn Apple Valley Premium Meats will sponsor
     Cale Yarborough Motorsports' Winston Cup Series Ford and
     become an "Official Marketing Partner for NASCAR's 50th
     Anniversary" during the '98 NASCAR season (NASCAR).  
          NOTES: The Zest spot featuring the Rams' Craig
     "Ironhead" Heyward was featured in USA TODAY.  Procter &
     Gamble VP Mark Schar said response to the spot "has been so
     positive that at least one sequel is planned."  Schar: "We
     hope to get him to come on for one of the college bowl
     games.  He's got a great personality and plays to the camera
     so well" (USA TODAY, 12/16)....Kevin Garnett's signature
     shoe from Nike -- tentatively titled Air Garnett -- should
     be available in stores sometime after the All-Star break. 
     The shoes are expected to retail for "less than $100."  On
     Monday, Garnett flew to Dallas for an advertising shoot for
     a Frito-Lay spot (STAR TRIBUNE, 12/16)....Reebok Dir of PR
     Dave Fogelson, on news the company will scale back its
     athlete endorser roster: "Athlete endorsers, while very
     important, are not the be-all or the end-all.  There are
     other factors that seem to be playing a much bigger role in
     what kids will wear on their feet" (REUTERS, 12/15). 

          NJ-based International Home Foods (IHF) has signed a
     two-year sponsorship deal with MLS for its Chef Boyardee
     line that will give the league "unprecedented exposure in
     grocery aisles and on Saturday morning kids TV, while
     continuing the brand's push into the tween-age market,"
     according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK.  The $3.5M deal gets
     IHF exclusivity for its canned pasta, chili and beans.  MLS
     "is also pursuing sponsorships in the consumer electronics,
     snack food and fast food arenas" (BRANDWEEK, 12/15 issue).