Coca-Cola has renewed its pact as the official soft
drink of the NFL through the 2001 season. The company will
execute a national promotion during each NFL season geared
toward specific fan development efforts and Coke will also
be the official soft drink of the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl.
Coca-Cola receives the right to use all league marks,
including the NFL shield, and the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl
logo, in advertising and promo activities. It has also been
granted the collective use of the 31 team trademarks, and
Coca-Cola will co-sponsor the NFL Experience (NFL).
STANDOFF: In N.Y., Stefan Fatsis writes that in
negotiations that "were acrimonious from the start," the NFL
"blinked," signing with Coca-Cola for "slightly more" than
$4M per year, a "fraction" of the $15M a year under its
previous contract and "nowhere near" the $36M per year the
league sought in January. As part of the deal, Coca-Cola
has relinquished its local marketing rights, freeing each
team to negotiate its own local soft drink sponsor. NFL
execs estimate that an average local deal of $750,000 a year
would more than make up for the lost income on the new deal.
The local autonomy is "just what Coke wanted," as it can now
focus spending "on fewer properties in key markets." Fatsis
adds that there "are no guarantees clubs will get rich
sponsorships," as smaller markets will likely be at a
disadvantage to larger ones (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).
WHAT IT MEANS: Fatsis reports that the new agreement
"contains a larger message" to the sports-sponsorship
industry: In an era of "sponsor overload," the value of
being an official sponsor "may be eroding." After rejecting
asking prices as low as $15M, Coca-Cola last month argued
for paying no rights fee at all but using its "marketing
muscle to sell the NFL worldwide, as it currently does" with
the NBA. But the NFL "countered that the league, awash in
TV revenue ... didn't need Coke's marketing muscle," as NFL
owners and players set aside $100M for grassroots marketing.
Coke "was ready to walk away from the NFL as recently as
Monday, but the league responded with a new, lower-fee
offer." Meanwhile, NFL execs said that they were prepared
to "walk away from Coke if it couldn't structure a favorable
marketing deal." NFLP President Sara Levinson: "Would we do
a deal just to have one in the soft-drink category? I don't
think so" (Stefan Fatsis, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).
FL-based Royal Caribbean Cruises will not return as
sponsor of the Super Bowl XXXIII halftime show at Pro Player
Stadium January 31, 1999, according to Tom Stieghorst of the
Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL. Royal Caribbean, which spent
$5M to host the halftime event last year, said it "would
rather spend the money elsewhere." Royal Caribbean Int'l
President Jack Williams said the money was "well spent," but
not two years in a row: "We spent a pretty good percentage
of our marketing budget on it. This year we're going to do
some different things." Stieghorst reports that Royal
Caribbean spent $62.5M on advertising in '97, and the Super
Bowl show "ate up 8 percent" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/22).
BRANDWEEK's Terry Lefton also notes that Royal Caribbean
dropped its sponsorship but says with the Super Bowl in the
cruise line's "home port" of Miami, "look for some locally
based marketing activity" (BRANDWEEK, 5/18 issue).
MCI was named the official long distance and local
service provider of the Pep Boys IRL and IMS. As part the
deal, MCI and Pep Boys will offer a race fan and an IRL
driver the chance to split $1M. The MCI Pep Boys Million
Dollar Driver sweepstakes begins June 15. To enter, fans
must successfully pick the IRL driver who wins three of the
IRL's TNN-televised races -- Charlotte, Atlanta and Las
Vegas. The fan who picks the driver will be entered for a
chance to share $1M with that driver. Fans who chose the
winning driver of two the races will have the opportunity to
split $100,000 with the winning driver (Pep Boys).
RACING NOTES: TNN, Texas Motor Speedway and True Value
have committed to an Indy 500 sponsorship deal with the
IRL's Greg Ray's Thomas Knapp Motorsports team (DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 5/22). Also at Indy, FL-based TransWorld
Diversified Services will sponsor the McCormack Motorsports'
G Force Oldsmobile Aurora driven by Raul Boesel this
weekend. The car showcases TransWorld's logo on the top
rear wing, the two front wings and the side engine covers
(TransWorld). ...ProLink golf measuring system wil sponsor
Team Scandia driver Billy Roe at the Indy 500. ProLink's
logo will appear on both sides of Roe's racecar (ProLink).
PITCHER PERFECT: David Wells could earn $350,000 in
endorsements following his perfect game. In Boston, Nick
Cafardo reports that one company "hot for his services" is
South Paws, which sells a line of T-shirts and jeans. Two
memorabilia companies have offered "upwards" of $175,000 for
a collection of "perfect game" balls signed by Wells (BOSTON
GLOBE, 5/22)....Kerry Wood jerseys went on sale in the Cubs
gift shop this week for $129 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/22).
NOTES: Sabres G Dominik Hasek has "deals in works" for
an arcade game, memorabilia and "Dominator" clothing to be
sold in the Czech Republic (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).
...In CA, John Reger wrote that Liquidmetal clubs "could be
one of the most important innovations in golf since the
introduction of titanium." With a set of irons costing as
much as $2,700, Liqiudmetal CEO James Kang said, "We're
trying to reach the purist. We want the guy who wants the
Ferrari or the Rolls Royce" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/21).
...In L.A., Greg Johnson examined Magic Johnson's business
dealing, and wrote that if his upcoming TV show and
businesses are successful, he may eventually join a "select
group" of former athletes, including Roger Staubach and
Roger Penske, "known as much for their business coups as
their sporting achievements" (L.A. TIMES, 5/21).
England's Football Association yesterday agreed to the
country's largest kit deal ever, a five-year deal with Umbro
worth $80M, according to the AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE. The FA
decided to stick with British-based Umbro despite "big-money
bids" from Nike and Puma. The design of future English kits
will change on a "strict" two-year cycle. As part of the
deal, the FA will make a $20M investment in youth football,
including "cash for redevelopment of Wembley as England's
new National Stadium as well as money for a sports science
unit and support for Centres of Excellence and Football
Academies" (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 5/21).
TX-based sports management group Capital Sports
Ventures and Washington, DC-based law firm Patton Boggs have
joined to provide sports representation and sports property
development. Capital Sports Ventures is led by William
Stapleton, who represents cyclist Lance Armstrong, pro
golfers Larry Rinker and Jenny Lee and beach-volleyball
player Lisa Arce. Patton Boggs is led by partner Herbert
Hecht, who has represented sports figures and worked on
various sports-related initiatives, and lawyer/lobbyist
Thomas Boggs, Jr. Other Patton Boggs firm members include
former NBA player Len Elmore, former pro baseball player
Michael Hoog and MLBPA advisor John Fithian. The groups
will remain in Austin, TX, and Washington, DC (CSV).
Five women's activewear makers "are working with the
entertainment industry in an effort to put their products in
the youth market," according to Rosemary Feitelberg of
WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. Puma, Groove, adidas, Crunch and
Rollerblade are "trying approaches" which include sponsoring
concert tours, hosting a hair-cutting contest and courting
costume designers. As part of its plan to launch a women's
apparel line in the U.S. next year, Puma is "working
closely" with Arnon Milchan's Regency Enterprises. Milchan
founded Regency and is Puma's principal stockholder. The
company recently acquired worldwide TV rights to the Corel
WTA Tour. In addition, Regency "is considering" using Puma
endorser Serena Williams for video, TV and film appearances,
and in the recent Regency film "City of Angels," actress Meg
Ryan sported Pumas (WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY, 5/21).
OTHER COMPANIES: Groove, a subdivision of CA-based
Groove Track Productions, "is suiting up" Boyz II Men for
their tour this summer, which will feature a stage and light
show with images of the Groove logo. adidas sponsored a
hair-cutting contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater which had
more than 500 participants, and finalists in the contest
received $500 worth of adidas merchandise. Rollerblade is
planning to offer demos and giveaways during this summer's X
Games in San Diego, where fans can test Rollerblade
equipment. The company plans to spend "more than" $100,000
for its presence at the event (WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY, 5/21).