GM's $3.5M sponsorship of the WNBA is an attempt "to
build relationships with women, who are estimated to make 80
percent of the consumer buying decisions in America today,"
according to Jon Pepper of the DETROIT NEWS. GM's
involvement comes "at two levels," at the "higher end," GM
is buying commercial time on the WNBA's TV broadcasts, and
at the "lower end," it is using grassroots marketing, having
WNBA players represent it at schools, shopping centers and
charitable events. GM VP/North American Advertising &
Marketing Philip Guarascio: "There's a purity about the
game, an innocence that gives it more of an Olympic feel
than an NFL feel." Mark Hines, GM's Assistant Brand Manager
for Buick Regal: "We're not looking at it as political
correctness. It's a great opportunity to connect with
people." Meanwhile, the WNBA expansion Detroit Shock has
sold 17,000 tickets for its June 13 opener, and Palace
Sports & Entertainment President Tom Wilson said he expects
a league-record 22,000 for the game (DETROIT NEWS, 3/22).
AGENCY NEWS: Fleer/SkyBox Int'l named FCB, NY, to
handle its SkyBox trading cards, from Rockett, Burkhead,
Lewis & Winslow, NC. Spending was estimated at less than
$5M (AD AGE, 3/23)....In N.Y., Stuart Elliott writes
advertising execs predict that under new Chief Marketing
Office Charles Frenette, Coca-Cola is "likely to concentrate
its relationships with a few larger core agencies while
retaining several smaller shops for creative alternatives"
(N.Y. TIMES, 3/23). Coca-Cola spokesperson Bob Bertini: "We
don't anticipate an immediate change in our approach to
agencies" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/23).
OTHER NOTES: In NJ, Colin Stephensen reported that
money might "have been a factor" in Seton Hall basketball
coach Tommy Amaker's decision to withdraw his name from
consideration for the Univ. of MI's head coaching job.
Amaker's three-year contract at Seton Hall pays him about
$350,000 annually, and his shoe contract with Fila "pays
about the same." Michigan has an exclusive contract with
Nike, "meaning its coaches cannot negotiate their own deals
for extra income" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/21). But Amaker
later said "money was never the issue" (STAR-LEDGER, 3/22).
...David Letterman will sponsor Indy Lights driver Tim Moser
for the remainder of the season (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/21).
...In Tampa, Dillard's department store violated MLBP's logo
policy Thursday when it included an unauthorized photo of
Devil Rays OF Dave Martinez in uniform in a full-page ad in
the St. Petersburg Times. Martinez was to have appeared at
a Dillard's store. Friday, Dillard's apologized on a full-
page ad in the newspaper, saying, "Dillard's deeply regrets
this unauthorized use." Martinez's appearance was cancelled
(TAMPA TRIBUNE, 3/21)....Angels OF Tim Salmon will appear in
an ESPN "Net Boy" spot. Salmon, who has never been selected
to an All-Star team: "The guys who make the All-Star team
are consistently out there, and that's where I realize I may
be hurting myself. ... But I'm starting to get old, and I
want to go to the All-Star game" (L.A. TIMES, 3/22).
USA Boxing will receive $1.51M from the Mashantucket
Pequot Tribal Nation in CT in a three-year sponsorship deal
announced Friday for a series of bouts at its Foxwoods
Resort Casino, according to Terry Price of the HARTFORD
COURANT. The sponsorship "is the first by an American
Indian tribe for a U.S. Olympic national governing body."
USA Boxing President Gary Toney said that the pact is the
largest signed by USA Boxing (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/22).
Under the sponsorship, USA Boxing will stage four events in
each of the next three years at Foxwoods. It held events in
'94 and '95 at the casino. The agreement calls for
sponsorship amounts of $456,000 the first year, $501,000 the
second and $556,000 the third. The first Foxwoods event
will be a dual match May 9 between the U.S. and Mexico. The
series of events will culminate with USA Boxing staging its
2000 Olympic box-offs there (WASHINGTON POST, 3/23).
MEET ME TONIGHT IN ATLANTIC CITY: The resurgence of
boxing in Atlantic City was examined by John Hassell of the
Newark STAR-LEDGER, who quoted Time Warner Sports President
Seth Abraham as saying, "Right now, Atlantic City is the
boxing capital of the world. The boxing world has tilted
away from Las Vegas and toward Atlantic City, although it
will not stay that way forever." The number of fight cards
in NJ rose from 29 to 41 last year, while NV's dropped from
40 to 31. Furthermore, NJ's revenue rose 218% between '96
and '97, while NV's fell 13% (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/22).
Nike said Friday that it will cut 480 jobs in Asia,
accounting for about 30% of its global reductions, according
to Didi Tatlow of the AP. Nike spokesperson Martha Benson
said that Asia's economic troubles have "hurt sales" in the
region. Benson: "The cost of a shoe suddenly grows quite
significant when your currency drops in half." Nike's
22,000 person global work force will be cut by 7%,
accounting for $30M-$45M of an estimated $175M in
restructuring costs. Benson did not give details as to
where the Asian job cuts would occur (AP, 3/21). An
OREGONIAN editorial Friday addressed Nike's Asian layoffs:
"[M]aybe there's one bright side to this story. Maybe now
the U.S. labor activists who have made such a stink about
the 'exploitative' manufacturing jobs in Nike's Asian
subcontractors will lay off for a bit" (OREGONIAN, 3/20).
OR, THEN AGAIN, MAYBE THEY WON'T: In its "occasional
series on chasing cheap sweatshop labor," the PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER examines Nike's contracting out to Vietnamese
factories under the header, "Vietnam Gives Nike A Run For
Its Money." In a front-page piece, Jennifer Lin writes that
Nike's foray into Vietnam "has been anything but business as
usual for Nike in its constant global search for cheap
labor." Although the company "found the eager, low-wage
workforce it covets, it did not bargain on such a rude
welcome from this Communist nation, where more than lip
service is paid to workers' rights. Nor did it anticipate
hostile local press coverage in a nation with no free
press." For Nike, one out of every ten pairs of its shoes
now comes from Vietnamese subcontractors, and Lin writes
that CEO Phil Knight will have to convince critics that
"$1.84 a day is a fair wage for Vietnamese workers"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/23). In a related piece, PA State
Rep. Robert Belfanti has proposed a resolution that would
"force" Penn State Univ. to sever its ties with Nike because
of the company's "reported mistreatment of Asian workers."
Penn State recently extended its original deal which was
signed in '94 worth $2.6M over three years (INQUIRER, 3/23).