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Volume 24 No. 159
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          The marketing of Jeff Gordon is examined by USA TODAY's
     Liz Clarke.  Bob Brannan, JG Motorsports VP and Gordon's
     personal business manager: "Our goal is to hook Jeff up with
     the right companies to help him transcend our sport.  And in
     doing so, bring the sport to a new audience that might not
     currently follow our sport."  New ventures for Gordon
     include a shoe deal -- Brannan says Nike "is among the
     suitors" -- and an appearance on the CBS sitcom "Everybody
     Loves Raymond."  Gordon is also seeking deals in the apparel
     and telecom category, as well as a financial provider. 
     Clarke reports that signing Gordon as a spokesperson is a
     seven-figure proposition, or more, "depending what rights go
     with the deal."  Action Performance CEO Fred Wagenhals said
     "women are probably buying 50% of" Gordon's product.  Gordon
     is also the first NASCAR driver to be represented by the
     William Morris agency.  William Morris' Raul Mateo: "Every
     day the worlds of sport and entertainment are becoming
     closer.  They're becoming one" (USA TODAY, 1/29).
          FIRST CALL: TX-based Firstplus Financial has signed a
     pact with ESPN for '98 Winston Cup Racing which includes a
     multi-million dollar ad buy for 17 Winston Cup events. 
     Firstplus will sponsor in-car camera positions on ESPN's
     Winston coverage and its ads will also be seen on ESPN/ESPN2
     coverage of other sporting events (Firstplus Financial).