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Volume 24 No. 156

Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

          The Cowboys filed a lawsuit yesterday against MA-based
     Converse Inc., to "prevent the athletic shoe maker from
     interfering with upcoming sales of officially licensed
     casual shoes, winter boots and shower slippers" bearing the
     team's name and logo, according to Richard Alm of the DALLAS
     MORNING NEWS.  Five-pointed stars "are prominent" in the
     logos of both the Cowboys and Converse, and Alm reports that
     the team's suit, which does not contain a request for
     financial damages, claims that the "two stars can coexist --
     as they have for years -- without confusion in the
     marketplace."  NFLP joined the team in the suit, which
     Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones declined to comment on, saying
     only that the team was "standing side by side with the
     league on this matter."  The new Cowboys-themed footwear
     will be manufactured by FL-based Foot-Tec Industries Inc.,
     and is slated to begin shipping "[i]n the next few weeks."
     The team and league "struck first" in litigation because
     they "believed that Converse intended to file suit to stop
     distribution of the new shoes."  Converse execs could not be
     reached for comment (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/7).  BLOOMBERG's
     Loren Steffy reports the Cowboys' action is the "latest
     twist in a four-year battle" between the team and Converse
     over the use of the star logo.  The Cowboys' suit claims
     that in '94, the shoe company filed an objection with the
     U.S. Patent Office over the team's plans to place its star
     logo on shoes and clothing, saying the logo "would cause
     confusion" with its own logo (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/17).

          The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), one of the "most
     recognizable national symbols" in the world, believes that
     its sponsorship deal with the U.S. Cycling team competing in
     the Tour de France "makes a lot of sense," according to
     Laurence Zuckerman of the N.Y. TIMES.  However, Zuckerman
     writes that "[u]nfortunately for" the USPS, pro cycling is
     "just not that widely followed in the [U.S.], where most of
     its customers happen to be."  Interest in cycling "is
     growing in this country," but it is "still far from the
     national passion it is in Europe."  Zuckerman calls the
     USPS's $1M sponsorship deal "cheap even if relatively small
     numbers of Americans will notice."  This year, the USPS
     assigned a special team to use its cycling sponsorship to
     "drum up business," and companies that have signed new deals
     with USPS as a result include NationsBank and Nashbar.  The
     USPS "decided not to buy time" on ABC and ESPN's Tour de
     France telecasts and instead plans to spend the money to
     sponsor U.S. pro races.  But, Zuckerman notes that ESPN has
     still focused "a lot of its coverage on" the U.S. Postal
     team, as team member George Hincapie's "early success has
     helped" lift the event's ratings by one-tenth of a point, to
     around 400,000 homes (Laurence Zuckerman, N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).

          In Atlanta, Furman Bisher reports that there is a "pile
     of endorsements out there" for U.S. Amateur Champion Matt
     Kuchar should he decide to turn pro.  IMG's Bev Norwood, on 
     Kuchar: "Very marketable.  Highly marketable.  On
     marketability he's ready.  As for his game, I'm not so sure"
     (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/17)....Packers TE Mark Chmura has
     signed a deal with Mug Root Beer and will appear in radio/
     print ads for the drink, and on POP displays. Chmura also
     signed to appear in TV spots for Milwaukee-based Opensided
     MRI, which will begin running in August.  Chmura's marketing
     is handled by WI-based Ad Cetera (Ad Cetera). ...English
     soccer player Stan Collymore, who "has received negative
     publicity since hitting his girlfriend ... in a Paris bar on
     the eve of the opening game of the World Cup," has lost his
     $4M deal with Diadora sportswear.  Diadora UK announced that
     they were severing ties with Collymore because he "had not
     complied with contractual obligations" (Mult., 7/17).
     ...Marquette Univ. men's basketball coach Mike Deane and
     Notre Dame men's basketball coach John MacLeod signed with
     WI-based Sports Marketing and Management Group for exclusive
     representation in contract and marketing deals (SM2G). 

          The NSGA's annual World Expo, which runs today through
     Sunday in Chicago, comes just as the "industry's roster of
     players is shrinking," according to Mary Ellen Podmolik of
     the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.  In past years, combined industry
     sales of sporting equipment, apparel and footwear increased
     6-7% annually, however, this year a 3% growth "is
     projected."   Podmolik writes that "[o]ne bright spot" for
     the industry may be women, who account for the "majority of
     participants in five of six" major fitness activities. 
     Podmolik: "The challenge is to refine merchandise and the
     marketing message for women without being patronizing" (Mary
     Ellen Podmolik, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/17).
          THE MASE ON DECLINING SALES? On "CBS Evening News,"
     anchor Dan Rather said, "There is a revolution afoot in the
     multibillion dollar shoe industry.  Athletic shoes are on
     the run, and with them those lucrative superstar endorsement
     deals."  In his report on the shifting trends of the
     athletic shoe industry, CBS's Anthony Mason said, "Looking
     for that hot new shoe, suddenly basketball is out and brown
     is in. ... Even the mighty Nike ... has itself become a
     fashion victim."  Reebok severed ties with Shaquille O'Neal
     and only Michael Jordan "really sells shoes."  Endorsement
     Insider newsletter Editor Jim Andrews: "Nowadays, the cash
     is gone and [now] all those players are getting is some free
     shoes."  Mason: "So new colors, new styles are flooding the
     market -- anything to light a spark" (CBS, 7/16).

          Pacers VP Larry Bird will appear on the cover of
     Wheaties for the second time, with two different regional
     layouts planned, according to Peter May of the BOSTON GLOBE. 
     On boxes sold in Indianapolis, Bird will be pictured as the
     coach of the Pacers, while in Boston, he will be shown from
     his playing days with the Celtics.  General Mills said that
     100,000 boxes will be available in IN, but did not specify
     how many will be available in Boston.  Bird appeared on
     Boston-area Wheaties boxes in '95 (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/17).

          Two WTA Tour North American event title sponsors,
     Advanta Corp. and IGA Supermarkets, have signed multi-year
     extensions to their title sponsorship packages in
     Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, respectively.  Additionally,
     the WTA's North American summer stops have seen an increase
     of more than 35% in new sponsor commitments over last year.
     In Montreal, the duMaurier Open has added nine new sponsors
     and has increased revenue by more than 50%.  In New Haven,
     CT, the Pilot Pen Int'l has added more than 24 new event
     sponsors, including Citizen Watches and the Phoenix Home
     Life Mutual Insurance Company, since its move from Atlanta. 
     Tennis Canada has renewed long-term deals with Cafe de
     Columbia, Rado and Evian, and added new sponsors Grand
     Marnier and Yoplait.  In San Diego, the Toshiba Tennis
     Classic has inked United Airlines and Clairol.  In L.A., the
     Acura Classic has added Bulova Corp. as its host sponsor for
     the next three years, as well as new sponsors Pfizer and
     Minolta.  Also, the Boston Cup has signed General Mills,
     Quaker Oats, Volvo, Pepsi and Echo Star (WTA Tour).
          FROM THE MEN'S SIDE: The men's duMaurier Open in
     Toronto has signed PageNet as a corporate partner for the
     '98 tournament.  PageNet has agreed to host the PageNet
     Super Service Contest (Canadian Tennis Association).