UCLA "has emerged as the latest endorsement
battleground" between Nike and adidas, who want to outfit
all 21 of the school's intercollegiate athletic teams,
according to Jeff Manning of the Portland OREGONIAN. UCLA
Assoc. AD Glenn Toth said that an agreement in principle "is
imminent," and although he wouldn't comment on the talks,
Manning reported that adidas "is cautiously optimistic."
Incumbent Reebok, which held UCLA rights since '93, but
dropped out of the bidding last month, will still outfit
UCLA teams throughout this school year. Reebok VP/Sports
Marketing John Frascotti: "The cost of these deals has
gotten out of proportion to the value they convey." Manning
reported Nike is also reducing its endorsement spending,
creating a $5.6M fund to "exit" endorsement contracts. But
Nike has made it clear that its cuts will come in sports it
considers "non core," and UCLA is "central to Nike's
heritage." Manning added that adidas "badly wants a West-
Coast and Pac-10 presence," as its four major universities
are all located west of the Rockies (OREGONIAN, 8/18).
adidas Golf USA said it will move its business
operations from Tualatin, OR, to the Carlsbad, CA,
headquarters of Taylor Made Golf, which is also owned by
adidas-Salomon, according to Bruce Bigelow of the SAN DIEGO
UNION-TRIBUNE. The two companies will continue to operate
separately, but it was "unclear" whether the move was part
of a reorganization announced by adidas on August 4. adidas
Golf USA, which has 30 employees, sells adidas-brand golf
apparel, footwear and accessories in the U.S. Most
employees are expected to transfer to the new headquarters.
Taylor Made, which has "roughly" 300 full-time and 160 part-
time employees, moved to the Carlsbad-based headquarters
earlier this year (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/18).
SUIT: adidas-Salomon AG was accused in a $1.2B lawsuit
filed by Chinese political dissidents "of using slave labor
in China to make World Cup 98 soccer balls." The suit was
filed on behalf of dissident Bao Ge and other current and
former prisoners of Chinese work camps (BLOOMBERG, 8/19).
Michael Jordan "would consider additional endorsement
opportunities," although his agent, David Falk, said that
anything he would agree to would have to be "a perfect fit,"
according to Pete Coates of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Falk disputed a
story in yesterday's Chicago Tribune that reported Jordan
"had put a freeze on additional endorsement contracts." The
story quoted FAME's Estee Portnoy as saying they were "not
actively pursuing" any new deals for Jordan. Falk said that
the quote was "taken out of context" and is "not accurate."
Falk: "I am continually searching for opportunities I think
would be appropriate for Michael. We certainly are going to
be selective." Falk said there are some areas that he has
"been actively pursing" over the past two years, although he
would not disclose further details (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/19).
NFL: The NFL announced its official postseason locker
room licensees: Logo Athletic will supply the Super Bowl
locker room coaches cap and Divisional Champions locker room
hat and T-shirt; Starter the locker room T-shirt for both
the Super Bowl and AFC/NFC Championship Games; and Sports
Specialties the AFC/NFC Championship locker room coaches cap
(NFL)....As part of Visa's NFL marketing partnership, 49ers
QB Steve Young and WR Jerry Rice will be featured in two new
30-second spots for Visa USA, which will debut nationally
during Sunday's 49ers-Dolphins game on Fox (Visa USA).
NOTES: The average cost of making a national 30-second
spot last year hit $308,000 -- more than $10,000 a second --
compared with $278,000 in '96 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/19).
...Puma officially announced the signing of Raptors rookie
Vince Carter, the only NBA player currently endorsed by the
company (Puma)....Callaway Golf introduced its new line of
Little Bertha Golf Clubs for junior golfers. A set including
a driver, 6-iron, 8-iron, wedge, putter and bag has a
suggested retail price of $500 (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/18).
MOTORSPORTS: Bayer reached a sponsorship deal for its
Aspirin and Alka-Seltzer brands with BACE Motorsports for
the '99 NASCAR Busch Grand National Season. The sponsorship
marks the seventh consecutive year the company has backed a
Busch team (SPEEDNET, 8/18)....MI-based Fastlane Footwear
acquired NC-based Jebco, which manufactures and sells a full
line of NASCAR licensed products. Fastlane has a NASCAR
license for its line of footwear products. Jack Stecher
will remain Jebco President and will be elected to
Fastlane's Board of Directors (Fastlane).
The 93 McDonald's restaurants in Northeast FL and
Southeast GA have begun selling the "Boselli Burger," named
after Jaguars OL Tony Boselli, according to Earl Daniels of
the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The burger, which is the company's
"largest sandwich" and sells for $1.99, marks the first food
item named for a professional athlete in Jacksonville.
Local McDonald's franchise Owner Gary Grimes: "The burgers
are already generating excitement in the stores. We have
hit a triple, if not a home run." The "Boselli Burger" is
made of three hamburger patties on "a big bun with American
and Monterrey jack cheeses, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes
and onions." Daniels reports that the burger will be sold
through at least December. If the team makes the playoffs,
sales could extend into January (FL TIMES-UNION, 8/18). In
Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom writes that the burger also comes
with a "defibrillator" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/19).
Two years ago when Nike signed Tiger Woods to a
reported five-year endorsement deal, it seemed "like another
stroke of marketing acumen," but early returns suggest that
Nike "made a vast miscalculation," according to SI's
"Scorecard." Mike Jaffey, manager of a Nevada Bob's in Las
Vegas, said of Nike's Woods line: "None of it is selling
very well." Noting the cost of $225 shoes and $75 shirts,
Matt Brown, of an OR-based golf shop, said, "Young kids like
it, but young kids don't have the money to buy it." SI
reports that Brown's comments "speaks to what seems to be
the main problem with the line: It appeals to the consumer
who can't afford it." Nike would not release sales figures
but "suggested that while off-course sales have been
disappointing, the Woods items are doing better in pro
shops." SI: "That doesn't appear to be the case. Several
pro shops with a high-end clientele ... don't even carry the
Woods line." SI adds that golfers "may have been turned
off" by the "radical" design of Woods' shoes and the "in-
your-face nature of his ad campaign." Bill Grigsby,
VP/Apparel & Merchandising at Edwin Watts Golf Shops: "Nike
tries to use the different-is-cool theme that works well in
sports. But in golf that formula doesn't work" (SI, 8/24).
There's "more than meets the eye" to the IOC's "failed
talks" with IBM over a new eight-year sponsorship deal,
according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. IBM, which has
been a major Olympic sponsor since 1960, "figured being the
technical supplier and a major sponsor" to the IOC, which
would give it the rights to handle official Olympic Web
sites. But the IOC wanted to package out those rights
separately, at the same time breaking up IBM's technological
"hold" on the Olympics by "going with different suppliers
for hardware and software." The IOC "felt threatened," due
to IBM's "natural instinct when it comes to Web design ...
to push the envelope, taking advantage of any improvement in
delivery of text, video and audio." Rubin reports that
"none of these Internet advances would be helpful to TV
broadcasters" and that it would be "extraordinarily
difficult for the IOC to slap [IBM] down if it pushed the
envelope too hard for the broadcaster's liking. A multi-
billion-dollar gorilla can do what it wants to do with its
Web site." IOC VP Richard Pound said that with TV rights
sold through 2008, "we've got to make sure we don't do
anything which would harm the rightsholders." Eventually,
TV rightsholders could be licensed to run video and audio on
their own, or, as Pound suggests, "pay a few extra dollars"
to "produce the official Olympic site" (TORONTO STAR, 8/19).