BASEBALL LIKELY TO PUT LOWE ON TEAM

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Major League Baseball Properties is asking Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, to step up and pitch MLB owners on the agency's game plan for re-energizing the American pastime.

Sports marketing and agency executives last week said the agency had won out over Partners & Shevack and Warwick Baker & Fiore. All that remains for Lowe is to win over the MLB Executive Council in a presentation that should take place this week.

The creative details of Lowe's plan are being kept quiet.

Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG dropped out of the review the week of Feb. 12, and incumbent Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, was asked to pitch but declined.

$10 MILLION BUDGET MULLED

MLB spent a mere $2 million in advertising last year, in addition to the inventory of units it held in league TV broadcasts on ABC, NBC and ESPN. Insiders say a boost in media spending to $10 million-plus is being considered.

MLB, Lowe and the other agencies wouldn't comment.

Goodby won the account about a year ago and created the well-received "Welcome to the show" campaign. Yet sports marketing executives say many MLB owners felt the witty, insiderish work failed to meet other objectives-like wooing back fans alienated by recent labor disputes and reconnecting with kids.

KANTARIAN BEHIND REVIEW

But agency executives say the account was put into review at the behest of Arlen Kantarian, exec VP at Radio City Music Hall Productions; until recently he seemed to be a lock to run MLB's business operations. Mr. Kantarian had spent the last year working on a variety of marketing initiatives for the league.

But Mr. Kantarian withdrew from consideration, citing MLB's unwillingness to give him the money and control he believed necessary.

Despite a counterproposal from owners that offered the salary and budget he wanted, Mr. Kantarian will stay at Radio City in a new position as head of a new sports and entertainment division (AA, Feb. 19).

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