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).