Castrol North America announced that Spurs C David
Robinson will be featured in its "Drive Hard to the NBA
Finals" sweepstakes, which offers Grand Prize winners an
all-expense paid trip for two to one game in the '98 or '99
NBA Finals. This will mark the first time that Castrol, an
NBA sponsor since '93, will feature an NBA player in one of
its promotions and Robinson will be featured on point-of-
sale materials during the promos run (Castrol).
ET TU, SHAQ FU? Shaquille O'Neal appears in a PSA this
weekend during Sunday's Lakers-Knicks telecast on NBC. The
PSA, produced by NBA Entertainment, highlights the Reading
Is Fundamental campaign. The spot shows O'Neal reading a
mystery novel, only to find that his dog, "Brick," has torn
out the last page (Neal Travis, N.Y. POST, 2/27).
ESPN announced that Classic Sports Network's ad sales
unit will be combined with ESPN's advertising sales
department. Classic Sports was acquired by ESPN in October.
ESPN's Advertising Sales Department now markets ESPN brands
including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN SportsZone, ESPN Int'l
and Classic Sports Network (ESPN).
Leo Burnett Co. "dropped out of a competition" to
handle the account for the PGA Tour's World Golf
Championships, according to George Lazarus of the CHICAGO
TRIBUNE. Burnett cites a "conflict with another" PGA Tour
group as its reason (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/27).
MARKET-PING: In Toronto, Lorne Rubenstein examines the
marketing efforts of AZ-based Karsten Manufacturing, which
manufactures Ping equipment. Karsten has hired the VA-based
Martin agency for advertising and promotion, and recently
signed Bernhard Langer and Lee Westwood. Rubenstein: "And
don't be surprised if the company soon announces an
endorsement deal with Casey Martin." Karsten President &
CEO John Solheim: "We didn't advertise at all in the 1980s
but are doing that now. We are not where we want to be, but
we intend to grow and to keep growing" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/27).
Serena Williams, who recently signed with Puma, said
she will have "input" into what she will wear. Williams: "I
told them I like the full dresses a little more than the
skirts, so, it is just -- right now we are working on a lot
of different designs so we are trying to get something
together." Williams said the Puma deal will involve "sports
and entertainment and we just want to bring something
different to the game of tennis" (THE DAILY).
OTHER NOTES: In Miami, Elaine Walker profiled New
Balance and wrote, "While other athletic shoe manufacturers
are struggling with stagnating sales, New Balance is riding
a wave of popularity that has sent sales climbing at a
double-digit pace" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/26)....Nike "is working"
to move the March 25 launch of the new Air Jordans from a
school day to a weekend after complaints from "educators
nationwide." The likely new launch date is Saturday, March
28 (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/26)....ROLLING STONE's Eric
Boehlert examines the corporate use of contemporary music in
TV advertising, noting Nike's use of the Verve's "Bitter
Sweet Symphony." Boehlert: "Why the mad rush from Madison
Avenue? Clients, eager for any sort of marketing edge, want
the authenticity and star association that hit songs
deliver." Levi's Senior Ad Manager Joe Townsend: "If we can
show kids we're cool, we have a step up." Boehlert writes
that the "going rate" for licensing of a "top pop song" is
$200,000 to $400,000 (ROLLING STONE, 3/19 issue).