Wendy's kicks off its two-year, multimillion-dollar
alliance with the NHL during Sunday's All-Star Game,
according to Debbie Gebolys of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH.
Wendy's "will make their debut" with ads during Fox Sports'
telecast. One ad shows Wendy's Founder Dave Thomas as a
hockey goalie. Thomas says, "Holy moly, I'm a goalie!,"
before his teammates "realize that he doesn't know the first
thing about the game." Eventually, players find the right
role for Thomas -- as driver of the Zamboni. The spots were
filmed at Nassau Coliseum. Wendy's NHL deal includes four
commercial spots per broadcast through the '98 Stanley Cup
Finals, dasherboard advertising rights on U.S. hockey rinks
and a feature during each broadcast that "underscores the
sponsorship" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/15).
GTE will extend its title sponsorship agreement with
the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Classic through 2002. Terms were
not disclosed (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/16)....Pacers G
Mark Jackson and F Dale Davis have opened Player's Wear
International, Inc. The joint venture men's clothing store
is located in IN (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 1/15)....In L.A.,
Denise Gellene wrote that the timing of Gillette's new spot
featuring Emmitt Smith "is unfortunate" because the Cowboys
didn't make the playoffs (L.A. TIMES, 1/15).
Reebok "has decided not to become the series sponsor"
of the IRL, sponsoring an IRL car instead, according to
Bruce Martin of NATIONAL SPEED SPORT NEWS. Martin reports
that IRL officials "did not want its series sponsor to also
be a primary sponsor of a car." While IRL execs "refused to
discuss Reebok," team owners believed a deal would have been
worth "as much as" $7M to the series (NSSN, 1/7 issue).
RACING NOTES: NSSN reports more "factoids" from CART's
IPO prospectus. CART CEO Andrew Craig's salary, including
bonuses, was $573,426 in '96. From '98-2000 his base
salaries will be $500,000, $550,000 and $600,000 (NSSN, 1/7
issue)....Former IMS exec Bill Donaldson's Premier
Management Group has taken over the day-to-day operations of
the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LAS VEGAS SUN, 1/15).
Rawlings Sporting Goods "promised shareholders" at
Thursday's annual meeting that the company "is preparing to
do battle not only with the Wilsons and Spaldings of the
world, but also ... Nike," according to Al Stamborski of the
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Nike has plans to increase its
investment in the sports equipment market this year.
Stamborski reports that while baseball accounts for 55% of
Rawlings' sales, "the company is trying to cut its reliance
on that sport by beefing up its offerings and marketing in
softball, football, basketball, volleyball, hockey and
soccer." In related news, Rawlings named Robert Prather, as
its newest board member (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/16).
While footwear companies "struggle to eke out gains in
shoe sales, New Balance is riding a boom -- specifically,
the baby boom," according to Joseph Pereira of the WALL
STREET JOURNAL. Using a "flashless formula" and an
"expansive range of widths tailored to an aging" population,
New Balance recorded a 16% gain in sales, to $560M on '97.
Footwear Market Insights President Mike Kormas said New
Balance "is becoming the Nike of the baby-boom generation."
Kormas said that while the average age of a Nike consumer is
25 and Reebok is 33, the average age of a New Balance
consumer is 42. Pereira reports that New Balance's "older-
age niche has some potent marketing virtues," since
customers "are less fickle, so the company doesn't worry as
much about fashion swings." President Clinton, Steve Jobs,
and Dustin Hoffman all have been seen wearing New Balance
and Pereira adds that New Balance will "more than triple its
marketing budget" this year to $13M (WSJ, 1/16).
DAY IN THE LIFE: In today's HARTFORD COURANT, fashion
reporter Andrew Julien accompanies 18-year-old Brian Salerno
to the mall to pick out a pair of sneakers. Julien writes
that Salerno "likes Nike, but find its shoes a little on the
expensive side. Like many of his friends, Salerno opts for
a new kind of athletic shoe quickly gaining ground with
teenagers -- skate shoes." Salerno selected a $30 pair of
Airwalk sneakers (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/16).
SHAQ MOVES: In N.Y., Richard Wilner reports that Reebok
"hopes to change the distribution of its Shaquille O'Neal
shoe." Under a "new plan, the Shaq shoe will be given wider
distribution through stores like Sears, Kohl's and Mervyn's
and not through specialty stores like Foot Locker. Shaq has
more of a broad-based appeal Reebok feels is better served
through the wider distribution" (N.Y. POST, 1/16).
CNBC's Scott Cohn reported that 16-year-old Chris Olson
has applied for a trademark for the phrase "Pack-to-Pack."
If Cohn gets the OK, Logo Athletic "has agreed to make T-
shirts and sweatshirts with the phrase, and Chris would get
a cut." But CT-based Starter Corp. "is already planning to
offer 'Pack-to-Pack' T-shirts of its own if the Packers win.
Those shirts are already for sale on Starter's Web site."
Cohn reported that Starter VP John Warfel said that "he is
not sure whether Starter had also applied for a trademark.
Now, the lawyers are hashing it out." Starter planned to
have T-shirts with the phrase in the Packers locker room if
they won the game ("Business Center," CNBC, 1/15).
EASY DOES IT: USA TODAY's Larry Weisman reports that
Brett Favre has turned down endorsement deals with Wheaties,
Disney, Jay Leno, David Letterman and the Milk Processors
(which he did in '97), to spend the week "preparing." The
Nat'l Milk Processors "enlisted" Reggie White and John Elway
for the shoot (USA TODAY, 1/16).
Advertisers, "already in revolt in response to expected
15%-25% price increases for ad spots" via the NFL's new TV
deals, "now have something else to gripe about: The NFL has
taken away their valuable in-game sponsored vignettes,"
according to Wayne Friedman of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
Vignettes such as "Honda Great Drives," on NBC, and the
"AFLAC Insurance Trivia Question" on Fox "won't be around in
coming years." The NFL, which allowed as many as eight
vignettes per game, will now add three commercial spots to
broadcasts on ABC, ESPN, CBS and Fox. NFL Senior VP/
Broadcasting Val Pinchbeck: "We thought it was better for
the viewer and the advertiser to add inventory. We wanted
to get rid of the clutter." Friedman also reports that,
after the deals, Disney may now combine its ABC/ESPN sports
advertising sales departments (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1/16).