MLB'S SPONSOR AND LICENSING $$ UP; ADIDAS SUIT SETTLED SOON?
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).