The more visible of these entities, the Professional Bowlers Association, has inked a two-year TV pact with CBS to air its PBA Tour broadcasts following a one-year trial. The PBA and its sports marketing agency, Marquee Group, New York, control production and marketing of its broadcasts, and Marquee is already signing new sponsors and renewing PBA's 14 existing sponsors.
General Motors Corp.'s AC Delco, which came aboard last year, is said to be signing a larger, multiyear pact making PBA its primary sports sponsorship.
Among other initiatives, the PBA is creating a network of state-of-the-art, PBA-branded bowling centers, attractive to bowling fans, teens and young adults. The PBA is looking to build its own centers and license its name to existing facilities.
The PBA expects to ink co-branding deals with 50 to 80 centers by yearend.
The PBA is finalizing promotional partnerships with PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola Co. and Frito-Lay to merchandise their products in those PBA-branded facilities.
The other entity working to polish bowling's image is Strike Ten Entertainment, a marketing company that represents almost every bowling industry organization except the PBA.
STRIKE TEN SELECT
Strike Ten, also believing corporate involvement is crucial to its mission, has created Strike Ten Select, a network of 2,000-plus independently owned bowling centers.
Hershey Chocolate USA, a new Strike Ten sponsor, this month launches a promotion created before Strike Ten Select was established, but it could be a template for Strike Ten programs.
Some 12 million free-game coupons will be delivered in six-packs of Hershey products, redeemable at participating Strike Ten bowling centers. Supermarket point of purchase will tout the promotion.
AVIS ON BOARD
Avis is coming aboard as a Strike Ten sponsor as its official rental car. Kayser-Roth Corp.'s No Nonsense has agreed to become a sponsor of the Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour, which Strike Ten markets.
But the effort to reform the media's view of bowling is led by the PBA, which sees New York-the nation's media and marketing hub-as a key battleground. The PBA will stage a tournament in the Big Apple to kick off its PBA Tour broadcast schedule on CBS next spring.
"Penetrating New York is a big step toward raising awareness for the changing image of the PBA with agency buyers," said Commissioner Mark Gerberich.
The PBA hopes to create more sizzle with a new tournament of champions event separate from the tour, packaged as a 90-minute special to air on CBS next summer.