Beginning with last night's NCAA men's champion KY,
Miami-based American Scoop ice cream will "take the logos of
top college and professional teams and emblazon them" on
their ice cream pints, according to Jeffery Zbar of the Ft.
Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL. American Scoop CEO Ed Squire said
that KY will be honored on three different containers, each
with the school's logo, and "each with a different fact box
about the team." Squire will intro the first batch of the
ice cream to retailers in KY on Thursday. FL-based Sports &
Sponsorships will handle the account with NY-based Alan
Taylor Communications overseeing the PR effort. Squire
worked with Sports & Sponsorships President Scott Becher to
forge deals with the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing
Company which give American Scoop rights to 79 championship
events and 200 schools. Squire has also retained rights to
be the "official ice cream licensee" of the NHL, and is
"working to sign" other pro leagues. The next market
targeted by American Scoop is Michigan, with links to the
Univ. of MI and the Red Wings. American Scoop's premium ice
cream will retail from $2.39-$2.75 (SUN-SENTINEL, 3/30).
CHOICE SEATS: All fans who attended Saturday's men's
semifinal games in San Antonio received specially-designed
seat cushions containing pre-paid GTE calling cards. As
part of its promotion, GTE made a $10,000 donation to the
Kids Sports Network, which provided more than 300 volunteers
to place the 40,000 seat cushions in the Alamodome (GTE).
IMG's Jeff Schwartz, who represents Pete Sampras, "has
stuck with" the new No. 1 men's tennis player in the world,
Marcelo Rios, "despite the fact that the player is far from
a marketing dream," according to Linda Robertson of the
MIAMI HERALD. Rios, who does have endorsement deals with
Nike and Coca-Cola in Chile, was labeled "the most hated man
in tennis" in an SI article two weeks ago. Schwartz: "They
didn't get below the surface in that article. It takes time
to warm up with Marcelo. I've been telling him to give
people a chance" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/30). Following Rios' win
at the Lipton, Chilean TV had a two-hour special on him and
another half-hour piece in prime time. Schwartz, on Rios'
popularity: "He's Michael Jordan in Chile. That's the best
way to say it" (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 3/30).
Monday's edition of "La Epoca," Chile's national newspaper,
featured ten articles about Rios. Rios is the first men's
tennis player from South America to be ranked No. 1 in the
world. Guillermo Vilas reached No. 2 in '78 (THE DAILY).
BETTER MAKE IT A BUD LIGHT: A-B's Bud Light brand has
signed on as the official beer of the '99 Women's World Cup.
Under the deal, A-B will commit $1M of Cup-themed ads and
receives board signage, media, tickets and hospitality
(BRANDWEEK, 3/30)....Starter has re-signed Steelers RB
Jerome Bettis for another three years in an endorsement deal
for both its branded and licensed apparel (BRANDWEEK, 3/30).
CUTS AT NIKE SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT: AD AGE's Bradley
Johnson writes that "one place taking a hit" during Nike's
recent staff cutbacks is Nike Sports & Entertainment. Its
staff has "shrunk" from 34 employees to 20. The company
will now focus on Nike oriented events as it "abandons
ambitions to compete with the likes of" IMG in staging
events for other marketers (AD AGE, 3/30 issue).
A BIG ATTRACTION: At the Mall of America, NASCAR
Silicon Motor Speedway is the highest grossing entertainment
tenant to date, according to the Mall's owner, Simon
DeBartolo Group. Weekends and selected weekdays see a
three- to six-hour wait at the interactive center (NASCAR).
As MLB opens its season today, its sponsorship and
licensing revenues are "up double digits, while starting
from an admittedly small base," according to Terry Lefton of
BRANDWEEK. But the "primary sticking point" for MLB's
"stalled on-field apparel program" is Yankees Owner George
Steinbrenner. MLBP President Bob Gamgort: "The biggest
thing standing between us and a new program is settling the
Adidas lawsuit and I think we are closer than we have been."
Lefton's sources said that a settlement was discussed during
the recent MLB owners meetings, "with a major impediment"
being Steinbrenner's desire to be reinstated to MLB's Exec
Council. He was removed from the committee last year after
his adidas deal. Lefton adds that new on-field brands "are
expected to include" Pro Player and adidas. New Era, MLB's
exclusive cap provider, is "close" to a five-year extension
which a source "pegged at more than" $60M (BRANDWEEK, 3/30).
LOCAL STRATEGY: MLB's "new ad strategy" in '99 will see
national spots "complemented in local markets by ads
featuring a similar concept specific to each team,"
according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. The "goal" is to create
"one voice with which the league and its 30 teams can
promote the game to fans." A "test" involving one team is
planned for this year. The campaign will continue with the
"What A Game" tag created by Lowe & Partners/SMS, N.Y.
Plans for '99 would have "news bulletin" spots customized
for every team which would follow the team's progress
throughout the season (Jeff Jensen, AD AGE, 3/30 issue).
MLB NOTES: Starter took out a full-page ad in USA TODAY
promoting their satin MLB dugout jackets. From the ad:
"Opening Day Dress Code: Jackets Required" (USA TODAY,
3/31)....MLB's Public Service Campaign for '98 will promote
the partnership between the league and its official charity,
the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Two 30-second TV
spots feature MLBers who are alumni or active supporters of
the BGCA. Players involved include Alex Rodriguez, Ken
Griffey Jr., John Olerud, John Smoltz and Frank Thomas. The
first spot will run today on ESPN's Opening Day coverage,
and both spots will run throughout the season during MLB
coverage on Fox, FSN, FX, ESPN and NBC (MLB)....BRANDWEEK
reports that Blimpie Subs & Salads is linking with Morgan
Creek Productions for a promo around the April 17 release of
"Major League III: Back to the Minors" (BRANDWEEK, 3/30).
The MLBPA "threw a high, hard one" at MLB, as it
granted Pacific Trading Cards an MLBPA license, putting MLB
in "an awkward position" which "could escalate tensions
between the licensing sides" of the league and the MLBPA,
according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. The deal comes "at
a time when they have at least paid lip service toward
working together for more synergistic marketing deals." MLB
now "must either capitulate to the [MLBPA], granting a
license ... or refuse and risk a resumption of hostilities."
One senior card industry exec said, "They were going to work
together and now the [MLBPA] is jamming this down their
throats." Pinnacle Brands Chair Jerry Meyer, noting the
number of card licensees: "I'm at a loss as to why anyone
would allow another company in considering the health of the
category." Lefton reports that industry estimates put the
deal at "close to" $4M, and "[m]any in the industry
interpreted the [MLBPA]'s move as a sign that it is strapped
for cash," a notion "rejected" by MLBPA Dir of Marketing
Judy Heeter. Lefton writes of "two larger issues" in this
case: the risk of "oversaturating an already oversaturated
category, perhaps killing it and driving one or more of the
licensees ... out of business," and "whether the two sides
will ever be able to work together" (BRANDWEEK, 3/30 issue).