The MLB Giants' Barry Bonds was profiled by Bob
Nightengale of USA TODAY BASEBALL WEEKLY. Bonds spoke about
his career, his relationship with the media and the fact
that he has no endorsement deals. Bonds: "Look, white
America is only going to hand-pick so many black players to
be a spokesman. What can you say, I wasn't the chosen one."
On his bad-boy image: "I see guys doing stuff and saying
stuff 10 times worse than me and they get away with
everything. Come on, dude, you think if I stayed in a
separate hotel from the team like Cal Ripken nothing would
be said?" (USA TODAY BASEBALL WEEKLY, 3/11 issue).
NIKE SAYS FILA LATER: Bonds "may be the only player in
all of baseball who doesn't get free shoes." While not
under contract, he had been getting shoes from Nike and
certificates worth $2,000 in apparel. But after wearing
Filas in a series last September, Nike ended the free shoes
and gift certificates. Bonds: "Nike got so (teed) off.
They tell me, 'We don't need Barry Bonds.' I've got to be
the only three-time MVP who has got to buy his own shoes."
Nike Dir of Baseball Sports Marketing Bill Frishette said,
"We made an offer to him four or five years ago, before
[Ken] Griffey was even taken care of. ... [S]ix figures, and
he turned us down. His quote to me was: 'I've won more MVPs
than Charles Barkley, so I should get paid more than
Barkley. It's not worth it to me.' I told him it doesn't
work that way" (USA TODAY BASEBALL WEEKLY, 3/11 issue).
Puma's new basketball ad campaign "forgoes pro
endorsers in favor of the potentially risky strategy of
using high-school" basketball players, according to Jeff
Jensen of AD AGE. The "Back to the Game" campaign, from PA-
based Gyro Worldwide, will have TV and print support. The
young players used in ads "are from Puma's strongest
markets:" Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, N.Y., and
L.A. Jensen writes that some footwear companies have been
"criticized for targeting and wooing high school" players,
but Puma Chief Creative Officer Antonio Bertone said that
the athletes featured in the new ads "aren't being paid, and
therefore they shouldn't be considered endorsers." He noted
that Puma will stop using the athletes in their senior year
in order to protect their NCAA eligibility. Puma, whose '98
ad budget will be 15% of sales, will begin airing the spots
nationally during the NBA playoffs (AD AGE, 3/9 issue).
DEALS: Nintendo signed Kobe Bryant to an endorsement
deal and rebranded its "NBA Courtside" to "Kobe Bryant's NBA
Courtside" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue)....Taylor Made Golf signed
an endorsement deal with PGA European Tour player Thomas
Bjorn, giving the company three of the top six players on
the '98 money list: Ernie Els, Bjorn and Retief Goosen
(GOLFWEEK, 3/7 issue)....World Champion Triathlete Michellie
Jones has signed on to endorse MET-Rx Engineered Nutrition,
which produces high protein, low fat nutritional drink mix
and food bars (MET-Rx)....Soccer star Carla Overbeck
selected Sue Rodin of NY-based Stars & Strategies as her
exclusive marketing agent. Overbeck currently has a multi-
year endorsement deal with Fila Sports, the company's only
female soccer player (Stars & Strategies).
NOTES: Hasbro will run TV spots this year touting
separate Nerf products. One of the spots will support
Hasbro's marketing alliance with the NFL (AD AGE, 3/9)....
MA-based information storage company EMC will be the title
sponsor of the Senior PGA Tour's Kaanapali Classic through
2000. Previously a presenting sponsor, EMC has a three-year
option to continue its deal through 2003 (PGA Tour).
Bill Donahue examines ESPN's foray into extreme sports
in today's N.Y. TIMES. Donahue writes that extreme sports
are now "increasingly about money." Donahue: "Mini-
industries sprout up around each nascent sport the moment
it's born, and the manufacturers, tour promoters and
impresarios of Web sites ... all desperately need ESPN. ...
ESPN holds the power to make a sport chic." ESPN
spokesperson Josh Krulewitz said the network "will continue
to promote the X Games brand vigorously." The games'
soundtrack is now available on a CD, and in April, ESPN's
roadshow, "Xperience," will begin a 10-city tour. About the
same time, ESPN will make its first foray into extreme
fashion, with JCPenney marketing a line of X Games T-shirts
and hats. Krulewitz said the new line is aimed "at a young
audience ... 12 through 34. They'll have a hip design, and
I think they'll sell very well" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/11).
Ross Rebagliati is expected to announce his first major
sponsorship deal with Roots Canada this morning, according
to Justin Kingsley of the CP. Roots spokesperson Raymond
Perkins: "We're signing up Ross as a spokesperson -- we'll
use posters and develop a line of Ross Rebagliati snowboard
wear." Rebagliati's rep, IMG's Nathalie Cook, said five to
six "non-equipment companies" are interested in Rebagliati,
as are "three goggle and board companies" (CP, 3/11).
THE GREAT ONE: In Toronto, Steve Buffery reports that
Wayne Gretzky contacted IMG about representing Rebagliati.
Nathalie Cook: "Literally, Wayne went straight to [his agent
Michael Barnett] and said, 'You've got to talk to this kid.'
And that's how we got him." Cook, on Rebagliati: "Kids
think he's cool for two reasons -- he told the truth and he
stuck up for his friends. And kids can smell somebody who's
not being honest. His message to the kids is, 'You know you
make decisions in life and those decisions have consequences
and be aware of that'" (TORONTO SUN, 3/11).
Champion Products will expand its commitment to the
fight against breast cancer via its partnership with the
WNBA. Champion will again donate a portion of its sales of
WNBA apparel to the National Alliance of Breast Cancer
Organization (NABCO) in '98. In addition, Champion will
feature the NABCO name and a pink ribbon on all WNBA point-
of-sale materials and garment hangtags (Champion).