ESPN Inc. has launched an Asia-Pacific ad sales
initiative focusing on Japan, Australia and New Zealand,
according to AD AGE. The initiative will be run out of Hong
Kong by newly appointed Pacific Rim Ad Sales Manager Sundip
Agarwal, who will report to Michael Fox, ESPN VP/Worldwide
Ad Sales. The new strategy marks the "first time" ESPN has
ventured into the region solo since forming a joint venture
with News Corp.'s Star Sports Network in '96. But ESPN's
latest move "will have no impact" on the Star Sports joint
venture. ESPN Inc. Senior VP Willy Burkhardt said that the
move to increase ad sales resources in Japan, Australia and
New Zealand comes "as distribution in the three markets
increases and regulations on pay-TV advertising carriage
ease." AD AGE reports that ESPN's ad sales in the markets
have "been slow or non-existent, and revenue has been mostly
from pay-TV subscription fees" (AD AGE, 8/13).
Red Wings C Sergei Fedorov "fired" his agent, Mike
Barnett of IMG, six months after he negotiated a contract
that paid Fedorov $28M last season, according to Michael
Buteau of BLOOMBERG. The move came "on the same day" 17-
year-old Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova "fired her
agent," Tony Godsick, also of IMG. While Fedorov and
Kournikova "have often been seen together socially, both
have said they are just friends" (BLOOMBERG 8/13).
ANN-ITA: Under the header "Is Kournikova Too Hot To
Handle?", TENNIS magazine's Andrea Leand writes that
Kournikova's handlers "are afraid her 'Lolita' image is
going to hurt her future endorsement deals." Leand: "Word
is that two potential sponsors told Kournikova she's too
much of a sexpot for them to handle. The fear is that
Kournikova's current image is too risque for companies that
market to teens and that she's too young to be a spokeswoman
for adult products" (Andrea Leand, TENNIS, 9/98 issue).
The "latest buzz" in athletic footwear stocks surrounds
CA-based K-Swiss, according to Caroline Waxler of FORBES.
Keith Daly, who oversees buying at FootAction USA: "K-Swiss
is the hot brand right now. I'm doubling my orders for this
spring." Waxler writes that the current "rage" is over the
brand's Altezo, a tennis shoe with a "rugged" sole. Goldman
Sachs analyst Margaret Mager says K-Swiss' shares are
"cheap" at the recent $23 price, trading at 14 times its '98
estimated earnings of $1.65 per share. Mager believes K-
Swiss shares will hit $38 "within 12 months" (FORBES, 8/24).
LINKS: A 16-page supplement around the '98 PGA
Championship, which begins today at the Sahalee Country Club
in Redmond, WA, ran in the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Advertisers
include Chrysler, Adams Tight Lies, Bushnell, Danka and the
USPS (THE DAILY)....John Daly has "decided to officially
make the switch" from Callaway's titanium Big Bertha to its
new Big Bertha Steelhead driver, right before the new club
"hits the market" in October. Daly will play with the club
this week (Randall Mell, SUN-SENTINEL, 8/13).
NOTES: Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey, on his new line of Ed
McCaffrey's Rocky Mountain Mustards: "I didn't help make the
recipe, but I did sample a bunch of different products and
chose the ones I like. I know my mom can't believe I'm up
on the same shelf with Paul Newman" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS,
8/13)....FL-based Entry Media has contracted with the Rams
to add their Turnstile AdSleeve Armcovers at the Trans World
Dome. The sponsor will be the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(Entry Media)....ANC Sports will provide signage for USA
Swimming's corporate sponsors at the USA Swimming National
Championships, August 11-15, in Clovis, CA. The event will
be delayed-broadcast by NBC Sports. In other news, ANC
Sports has launched its Web site at www.ancsports.com (ANC).
Snickers kicks off the NFL season with a series of
spots supporting its $2M under-the-wrap promo, its first
major football on-pack promo. The spots star Curtis Martin,
Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Tony Siragusa and Jason Sehorn,
who, along with other players, are competing for the MVP
award of the "Snickers Shock Zone" game, an electronic
football game. The five spots from BBDO, NY -- two 30-
second, two 15-second and one 15-/30-second ad -- will run
nationally from August 17 to September 20 during primetime
and NFL games. The campaign culminates on September 20 with
a new commercial announcing the MVP. The ads back Snickers'
on-pack promo which features the names of 22 NFL players
hidden under the wrappers and a $2M grand prize. Players
featured on the Shock Zone wrappers are: Bettis, Brown,
Siragusa, Sehorn, Brad Johnson, Mike Alstott, Joey Galloway,
Herman Moore, Ben Coates, Nate Newton, Orlando Pace, Tony
Boselli, Reggie White, Eric Swann, Bruce Smith, Ken Norton,
Derrick Thomas, Zach Thomas, Lamar Lathon, Darrell Green,
Deion Sanders and Napoleon Kaufman. The $2M grand prize
wrapper features the Shock Zone MVP (Snickers).
The marketing campaign for NFL Xtreme, an officially-
licensed NFL video game whose slogan is, "After the coin
toss, anything goes," flies "in the face of good taste and
good sense," according Peter King of SI. Referring to
"celebrated late hits," serious concussions that have forced
players to retire and players being suspended for unruly
behavior, King writes that NFL Xtreme "is selling trash
talk. It's shameful. How can the league come down on cheap-
shot artists and hotheads while also endorsing this video?"
Cowboys QB Troy Aikman, on the NFL: "They want this stuff.
It sells." NFL Dir of Corporate Communications Chris
Widmaier: "It's more of a fantasy game. ... The marketing of
this game is consistent with how to get the attention of the
upper-teen and early-20s market" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 8/17).