COWBOYS MOUNT MEGABRAND OFFENSE

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The Dallas Cowboys are being rolled out as a national sports megabrand in an unusual marketing effort that will put the "America's Team" image to the test.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has tapped 21st Century Marketing, Greenwich, Conn., to develop a national sports marketing program for his NFL franchise.

The program provides one-stop shopping for advertisers, with nearly every marketable aspect of the team available for purchase, from the logo and Texas Stadium suites to the use of the Valley Ranch training facility for fantasy camps and corporate outings.

Past and present players and coaches are also available, but deals with the likes of Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith, Tom Landry and Barry Switzer would first have to be cleared by those personalities themselves.

There's also the possibility of a national media component: Mr. Jones and 21st Century Marketing are negotiating with Fox Broadcasting Co. to buy commercial time on national broadcasts of Cowboys games that would be sold with marketing packages.

The sports marketing company is best known for developing and selling the International Olympic Committee's worldwide sponsorship program. For the Cowboys, 21st Century is expected to first approach companies that already have relationships with the NFL.

"We want to provide added value to these companies; we want to be the arms and legs of their NFL sponsorship," said President Robert Prazmark.

An initiative similar to the Cowboys' program was started last year by the San Francisco 49ers and East Rutherford, N.J.-based Integrated Sports International. That vehicle, however, neither brokers endorsement deals nor packages national media.

Mr. Jones said the marketing vehicle won't conflict with the leaguewide marketing of NFL Properties, nor will it undermine the exclusivity agreements Fox gives its advertisers should the Cowboy packages include national media time. In fact, he believes that aspects of the program could be duplicated by NFL Properties and other teams with a national appeal.

"I think they can enhance the logos that they presently license by offering added value in the most sensitive way, in terms of a direct involvement with the team," he said.

The Cowboys franchise, winners of four Super Bowls, is unquestionably among the most marketable properties in all sports. What remains to be seen is whether the team can sell products outside the Lone Star State.

The Cowboys' allure can be measured in sales of NFL-licensed products on a team-by-team basis. The team accounted for 27.8% of those sales in 1993; the Los Angeles Raiders were a distant second at 7.6%.

Mr. Prazmark disagreed with sports marketing experts who said the recent exit of colorful coach Jimmy Johnson and several key players damaged the team's marketability.

"If they went 0-18 next year, I might have a problem," he said. "But they won't ... we're selling more than a season; we're selling an image created by one the winningest traditions in sports history."

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