VA-based LCI Int'l signed a three-year deal with a
joint option to become the official long distance provider
of the LPGA, the company's first major women's sports
sponsorship. LCI will provide prepaid calling cards to LPGA
Tour players; long distance service to the LPGA and the LPGA
Tournament Sponsors Assoc.; have on-site sponsorship of
selected LPGA events; hold category-exclusive TV ad rights
for selected events and on-site sponsorship and TV
advertising for the '98 Solheim Cup in Dublin, OH (LPGA).
THEY CAN PLAY, AGAIN AND AGAIN: Helen Alfredsson,
Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Kelly Robbins will star in
three, 30-second TV spots that will debut during CBS's
coverage of the Mercury Titleholders Championship this
weekend. The spots, by DDB Needham, were directed by Joe
Pytka and feature the tag, "Hey, we can play." One spot,
"Rivalry," opens with Sorenstam and Webb discussing their
rivalry and their non-combative quotes are juxtaposed with
scenes showing Sorenstam drawing a mustache on Webb's
publicity poster, and Webb keeping a Sorenstam voodoo doll
in her locker. These spots, along with earlier ones
featuring Nancy Lopez and Michelle McGann, will air during
LPGA telecasts on CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN, ESPN2, The Golf
Channel and Lifetime. A print campaign also runs (LPGA).
GLOBAL GOLFING: In Tampa, Mick Elliott profiles the
LPGA and writes that, "For all the visionary talk by the
men's tours, it is the LPGA that has proved itself the real
global stage," with 74 foreign golfers representing 16
countries active on the Tour (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 4/30).
MORE WITH MICK: N.Y. POST gossip columnist Neal Travis
reports that ICM, which recently signed to rep Mickey
Mantle's widow and three sons in future entertainment deals,
"has no handle" on Mantle's "longtime mistress and agent,"
Greer Johnson, who is "well along with her own book about
life with The Mick." Travis adds that Greer's book is
attracting "film and TV interest" (N.Y. POST, 4/30).
NOTES: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch reports that
negotiations "are ongoing" to extend MasterCard's title
sponsorship of the PGA Tour's Colonial tournament.
MasterCard is in its final year as title sponsor, with a
one-year option to extend the pact to '99 (STAR-TELEGRAM,
4/30)....Buick renewed its commitment to the Buick Open,
announcing that the tournament will continue at Warwick
Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, MI, through 2002
(Buick)....Budweiser's Louie the Lizard will be featured on
the car of NHRA Top Fuel dragster Kenny Bernstein during the
Lone Star Nationals this weekend at Texas Motorplex (USA
TODAY, 4/30)....Wong Doody won the Grandy Award at the 34th
annual Int'l Andy Awards for creativity for a TV campaign
for the Sonics. Doody won $50,000 (N.Y. TIMES, 4/30)....As
part of his settlement with former NBA star Kareem Abdul-
Jabbar, Dolphins RB Karim Abdul-Jabbar will be know as
"Abdul" for the purposes of commercialism (Mult., 4/30).
Several retailers told SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS' Andy
Bernstein that Nike replica team jerseys "consistently kept
pace with the competition despite" a price difference that
saw its jerseys sell for around $15 more than its
competitors at retail. Nike will lower the price of its NFL
replicas for fall '98. Gaylan's reported that Nike's
college jerseys were "among its best-selling licensed
products." Bernstein writes, however, that "it's clear that
Nike is far from being an industry leader overall. In fact,
insiders tell SGB that Nike failed to meet its NFL's minimum
royalty requirement last season." Nike OTS Licensed
Division Dir Bruce Kaplan declined to comment on the
payment....In other news, retailers tell SGB's Mark Tedeschi
that they are "bewildered by all the negative attention"
Nike has received. City Sports footwear buyer Sean O'Brien
said that Nike's basketball apparel "hasn't been that strong
and cross training has been slow, but that's industry wide,
not just Nike. Their running has been huge this spring."
The Finish Line Senior VP Joe Wood said Nike made up about
66-67% of the companies business last year, "now they are
about" 60%. Woods: "There is a lot more bad press than
reality" (SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS, 4/15 issue).
NOTES: PA-based Mitchell & Ness, manufacturers of
nostalgic baseball apparel, will "soon join" the NBA ranks
producing replica NBA uniforms. Mitchell & Ness has been
working with the NBA to license the Back Court Collection, a
tribute to the NBA's 50-year history. The line will launch
at NSGA show this year....Bob's Stores President & CEO Marc
Balmuth is featured in a Q&A. Balmuth, on the number of
brands consumers can see at Bob's Stores: "Just about
everything may be stepping out too far, but I think we're
giving the brands a lot of space and I think that we have
most of the brands out there that are exciting to the
consumer. So in the younger businesses, I think we're
making as strong a statement as anybody" (SGB, 4/15).
In its new partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation,
IMG will distribute the "friendly" games that men's and
women's USSF teams play against other countries between
World Cup matches, and no World Cup or MLS games will be
included, according to Steve Donohue of ELECTRONIC MEDIA.
In discussing the deal, IMG Senior Exec VP Bob Cain said,
"It's hard to think that it (soccer) will do anything but
keep growing. The dividend will start paying years from
now." As part of the agreement, IMG will distribute at least
10 hours of children's soccer programming, with Nickelodeon
as a "potential cable carrier." IMG hopes to "build the
sport by attracting younger demographics." ESPN
VP/Programming Steve Risser said that the net, which has a
deal with the USSF that expires this year, sees soccer as a
"growth sport," but "isn't ready to commit to buying more
than 14 games each year." IMG is "targeting" Lifetime as a
"solid candidate" to air women's games. ESPN's Risser said
that another challenge is scheduling, as the USSF schedules
its games 60 days in advance, while ESPN "tries to program"
its schedule 90 days in advance (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 4/27).