ATHLETE'S FOOT TREATMENT LAMISIL SPONSORS AWARD: 3-YEAR PACT WITH AAU FURTHER LINKS BRAND WITH SPORTS

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Novartis Consumer Health has inked a deal to link its Lamisil AT athlete's foot cream with some of the best-known athletes of our time.

The marketer has signed a pact with the Amateur Athletic Union to serve as sponsor of the AAU's James E. Sullivan Award, which is presented annually to the country's top amateur athlete.

Past winners include Tennessee basketball star Chamique Holds-claw; football star Peyton Manning; and Olympians Florence Griffith Joyner, Greg Louganis and Dan Jansen.

The award sponsorship is part of a wide-ranging three-year deal with the AAU that includes Lamisil banner ads on the AAU's Web site (www.aausports.org); the opportunity to display ad banners at the AAU's annual Junior Olympic Games; and the rights to use the AAU symbol in its advertising.

The deal was announced Sept. 22 at the AAU's annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

FIRST OTC SPONSOR

The AAU is a 500,000-member organization that operates sports leagues and events for youth athletes. Other corporate sponsors are Nextel Communications Corp., Rawlings Sporting Goods, the WNBA and Sports Illustrated for Women. Lamisil is the first over-the-counter product to serve as a sponsor.

Novartis is hoping the AAU tie-in will create awareness for Lamisil among athletes at an early age, as well as their parents and coaches.

"I think it holds for any brand that the sooner you can get someone to try your brand, the greater the chance they'll stick with your brand," said Barry Cohen, Novartis' category director for dermatologicals.

Novartis has positioned Lamisil as the athlete's foot cream for the high-performance athlete since its launch as an over-the-counter product in May. A $15 million to $20 million TV and print campaign from Grey Advertising, New York, features images of athletes such as basketball players and weight lifters in action.

QUICK LEAP TO NO. 1

After only weeks on the market, Lamisil vaulted to No. 1 in the cream segment of the athlete's foot remedy category. Lamisil had a 39.3% slice of the $11.1 million in sales the category posted for the four weeks ended Aug. 22, according to Information Resources Inc. figures.

Previous leader Schering-Plough Corp.'s Lotrimin was in second place with a 28.6% share of market for those four weeks.

Besides the AAU link, Novartis will also continue to link Lamisil with the New York City Marathon. The company recently signed a two-year deal worth some $200,000 annually to continue as a race sponsor. This year, the product name

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