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GETTING A HANDLE ON WORLD CUP EURO MARKETERS LINK TO SOCCER

By Published on .

Marketers are going wild in soccer-crazed Europe as they send their teams next month to the World Cup, one of the continent's premier sports marketing events.

From General Motors' World Cup edition Corsa supported with a $10 million campaign to the $20 million Adidas is spending to promote its special new soccer footwear, marketers are kicking in big bucks for the event.

In its biggest-ever pan-European promotion, GM's Opel subsidiary is offering its "Corsa World Cup" model bearing the World Cup logo and a $950 discount off the regular Corsa model. As well as the usual Corsa color range, the car is available in violet, the main World Cup color, and includes a stereo radio and sunroof. On sale now in the European markets sending teams to the World Cup, the special model is backed by pan-European print-only campaign from Opel's European agency McCann-Erickson, Frankfurt.

The campaign will run only in the countries whose national soccer teams qualified, including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Norway. The break date will vary.

Magazine ads describe the Corsa World Cup using soccer imagery. Newspaper ads tailored to each country salute the national team heading for the U.S., where the monthlong competition starting June 17 will take place in nine cities.

Another major tie-in is planned by Gemstar, a U.S. company that introduced its VideoPlus device for programming of videocassette recorders last year in continental Europe under the name ShowView.

"The World Cup is an ideal opportunity for video recorders," said Penny Heyes, Gemstar Europe marketing and distribution director. "There will be major time shift viewing because lots of games will air live [from the U.S.]."

With ShowView, viewers record programs by entering the number of a TV show as published with the local TV listings.

Gemstar and BSB Dorland, London, are finalizing a soccer-themed ad to run in late May and June in TV listings publications and newspapers in France, Spain, Italy and the U.K., Ms. Heyes said. The ad shows four soccer players in a row, each with a numeral on his back, mimicking a ShowView program code. The headline says "You have to wait four years to watch it. But only four seconds to record it."

For soccer fans who want to play the game as well as watch, Adidas is using the World Cup to kick off a $20 million pan-European ad campaign for its Predator soccer boot starting this month.

Shot in Argentina and Australia, the two humorous spots entitled "FIFA" and "Brazilian" target 12-20 year old soccer fans. Both ads, by Leagas Delaney, London, spotlight The Predator's key feature-molded rubber ridges that enhance the boot's grip on the ball.

"It will revolutionize the game," vows Account Director Tim Little.

One "FIFA" spot, named after the Swiss organization which governs soccer worldwide, explains the new boots give the wearer an "unfair" advantage. The ad says the boot is 100% legal because FIFA has approved its use but 0% fair because players wearing it will have much more control over the ball.

Adidas is also sponsoring its first computer game to promote Predator, timed to be released internationally in June. The game, FIFA International Soccer II, marketed by San Mateo, Cal.-based publisher Electronic Arts and Adidas, will receive both above and below-the-line support in the U.S. and Europe from London computer games specialist agency Microtime Media.

Some marketers' products tying in with the World Cup have no connection with the sport. One is Barcelona's Panrico, a baked goods company using the event to promote its Ballycao chocolate-filled buns. Targeted at children, Ballycao's packaging contains stickers with photos of the Spanish players and with 15 proofs of purchase, consumers can enter a drawing for an Adidas soccer ball. In the first week of the promotion, unleashed last month and running through July, Panrico received 2,500 entries; the first 1,000 were guaranteed a ball. The promotion is handled by Grey, Barcelona, and is advertised through a tag at the end of the bakery's regular TV spots. The tag asks kids to enter by checking packaging on their favorite treats.

Genoa-based Italiana Petroli, the Italian team's main sponsor, has signed Italian soccer player Roberto Baggio for a $10 million ad campaign, from Promarco, Milan, to promote a World Cup soccer sweepstakes. The campaign, running since early April, was created in-house and shows a blank-faced Mr. Baggio, driving his motorcycle into a gas station and reciting woodenly: "If you participate in the sweepstakes, we can go together to the U.S." The ad then hypes a sweepstakes offering viewers a trip to the U.S. to see the games.

Italy's Ferraro is also using Italian soccer stars in its TV campaign, created in-house, promoting a Ferrero sales promotion event where consumers collect points to win various World Cup-related prizes, such as sports bags and autographed T-shirts.

An unconventional World Cup marketer is Spain's leading department store group El Corte Ingles. In addition to providing the team's street dress, El Corte Ingles, is using the players as models in a TV and billboard campaign created by Casadevall Pedreno & PRG, Madrid. The ad's slogan, "The best choice in fashion" is a play on words because the Spanish word for choice "seleccion" means both choice and team. The campaign broke earlier this month and will run at least until the games.

Elena Bowes, Laurel Wentz, Dagmar Mussey, Deborah Klosky and Michelle McCarter contributed to this story.

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