Valparaiso Univ., heading to this weekend's NCAA men's
Sweet 16, "has locals going bananas," according to George
Lazarus of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. On Monday, the school's
Book Center had "sold or received orders for more than
$21,000 in merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to car flags.
That is ten times as much as the store does on a "normal
day." Elegan Sportswear, Inc., a Valparaiso wholesaler of
embroidered merchandise and screen printing, "expects to
sell an additional 2,000 T-shirts beyond those that were
shipped to retailers Monday" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/18).
HUSKY FEVER: The Univ. of WA's NCAA Tournament run "has
spurred brisk sales of UW hoops paraphernalia." Shawna
Gibson, Manager of the DawgHouse, a University District
sporting goods store, said that sales "picked up" following
the Huskies' first win, but after the second win, "people
have been asking about Sweet 16 T's" (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/17).
NEW PROMO: For the first time ever, a retail promotion
geared to drive sales of NCAA Women's Final Four merchandise
has been launched. Ocean Spray is the presenter of the
promo, and Goody's Family Clothing is the host retailer at
45 of its TN store locations. Each store will display
Women's Final Four merchandise throughout March. Shoppers
at the participating stores can enter a contest, with the
Grand Prize winner receiving an all-expense paid trip for
two to the Women's Final Four in Kansas City (NCAA).
ESPN announced that six new sponsors will join eight
returning sponsors for the '98 ESPN X Games. The first-time
associate sponsors include Touchstone Pictures' Armageddon,
AC Delco, Lee Jeans, Sony Corp., Sony Electronics and Speed
Stick Ultimate. Among the returning gold sponsors are
Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, AT&T and Chevy S-10 Pickup/Pontiac
Sunfire. Snickers/Starburst Fruit Chews have moved from
associate sponsor to gold. Pringles, Visa and the U.S.
Marines will return as associate sponsors. Sponsor benefits
include a comprehensive package on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio,
ESPN SportsZone, a 10-market "Xperience" show and complete
on-site hospitality opportunity. Sponsors will also receive
exposure through a "Guide to the X-Games," which will be
distributed through Rolling Stone and ESPN Magazine (ESPN).
SWAMI: Sprint and ESPN are combining for a "Beat the
Swami" promo in which entrants pick the top 10 selections in
the NFL Draft against ESPN's Chris Berman. Top prospects
Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning will appear with Berman in a
four-page SI spread promoting the contest. ESPN may also
tag on-air promos for its NFL Draft coverage (ESPN).
TOURNEY NEWS: ESPN Senior VP/Ad Sales Jeffrey Mahl said
that Chrysler, State Farm, Lee Jeans, Nike, Bristol Myers
and Phoenix Home Life all have "significant positions" on
the NCAA women's Tournament (CABLE WORLD, 3/9 issue)....ESPN
SportsZone has signed up 19 sponsors and advertisers for the
NCAA basketball tournaments this month. Sponsors include
Ford Motor Co., Hewlett-Packard and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up.
Advertisers include Carter-Wallace, Mazda Motor, Mercedes-
Benz of N.A. and Sony PlayStation (AD AGE, 3/17).
MLB and Toys "R" Us have partnered in a national
promotion sponsored by Pepsi Cola. The sweepstakes, titled
"Be Our Reporter," will run between March 15 and April 30
and is open to kids ages 7-15. With every purchase of a
baseball glove, bat or batting glove at Toys "R" Us,
consumers will receive a free baseball cap in a Pepsi can
bank. Kids "R" Us will offer the free bank with the
purchase of any licensed MLB product. The Grand Prize for
the promo is a trip for four to Coors Field for the '98 MLB
All-Star Game and $1,000 in spending money. The winner will
also have a chance to meet and interview players. The
interview will be edited into an episode of "This Week in
Baseball." Participating MLB licensees include Wilson
Sporting Goods, Franklin Sports and Louisville Slugger.
Support will include Toys "R" Us circulars, print ads, on-
air promo spots during "This Week in Baseball," feature
space in Toys "R" Us stores and in-store handouts (MLB).
AUTO RACING: The NASCAR collectibles market was
examined by Marc Benjamin in the BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN.
Popular items include die-cast metal cars, mini helmets, T-
shirts and caps. Larry Collins, VP of Mesa Marin Raceway:
"Race teams make more money from souvenir sales than from
prize money [or] sponsorships" (CALIFORNIAN, 3/17).
...Action Performance Cos. Inc., which designs, markets and
distributes licensed motorsports merchandise, announced
plans to settle two pending lawsuits. The company will take
a one-time charge of approximately $900,000, or about $0.03
per share (Action Performance).
FROM THE BREWERIES: Miller Brewing "is restaging one-
time flagship beer" Miller High Life with new ads breaking
in April. The spots are created by OR-based Wieden &
Kennedy, and will air on MLB broadcasts, the NBA Finals and
on primetime TV. An under-the-cap summer promo from MO-
based Zipatoni will offer consumers a chance to visit four
famous ballparks via a match-and-win tie-in to Fox baseball
(BRANDWEEK, 3/16 issue)....Rheingold beer, an original
sponsor of the Mets, will use Mets old-timers Ed Kranepool
and Tommy Agee as pitchmen for the relaunch of the brand.
Also "in the works" is a million-dollar pitch promo at Shea
Stadium in August, which "may include a celebrated Met
pitcher as spokesman" (Terry Lefton, BRANDWEEK, 3/16).
NOTES: VT-based Burton Snowboards is using a Lotus
Domino Internet application that allows Burton and their
design team, JDK, to post designs, images and additional
product information where riders anywhere in the world can
view them and provide feedback in real-time (Burton)....
National Car Rental has inked with Fox to be the presenting
sponsor of next month's Santa Anita Derby. National will
have "category-exclusivity and five 30 second spots" for the
April 4 event (MEDIAWEEK, 3/16)....Since the end of his
holdout, sales of Red Wings F Sergei Fedorov's merchandise
"have dropped off at Metro Detroit sporting goods shops"
(DETROIT NEWS, 3/17)....ASICS Corp. announced a two-year
Platinum Sponsorship of the Idaho Women's Fitness
Celebration 5K, September 19 in Boise, ID (ASICS).
MLS Clash F Eric Wynalda "has joined the All Star Cafe"
as its latest sports celebrity spokesperson and stockholder,
according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Wynalda, a
"huge" Wayne Gretzky fan, "was thrilled to hear" that the
soccer items he was donating to the Las Vegas Strip
restaurant, including a game-worn U.S. national jersey, were
going to be displayed next to Gretzky's memorabilia.
Wynalda: "I think to have a soccer player represented here
(at the All Star Cafe) is awesome" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 3/17).