Distributor tempts latino advertisers with virtual ads to Goodwill Games

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MEXICO CITY -- Sport International, a Puerto Rico-based producer and distributor of sports programming, is making deals with Latin American broadcasters to show this summer's Goodwill Games and bring in Latino advertisers via virtual signage. Sports International has the Latin American distribution rights to the July 19 - Aug. 2 Goodwill Games, to be held in New York City. TBS Superstation is the host network and has brought in CBS as its broadcast network partner.

Sports International will air the Goodwill Games via four separate broadcast signals--one each for Mexico, Brazil and Argentina and a fourth for the rest of Latin America. In Latin America, Sports International has signed up TV Azteca in Mexico, Canal 4 in Chile (majority by TV Azteca), CTN in Brazil, channels 11 and 7 in Puerto Rico, and four Central American stations, said its CEO, Hector Figueroa. He will work with Torneos y Competencias, Argentina's No. 1 sports producer and rights holder, and is close to deals with a broadcaster there as well as several other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Via a joint venture with Symah Vision, a subsidiary of France's Legardere Group, and Media Partners America, the company will provide virtual signage for the event. Virtual signage allows for the insertion of signs or other images via a computer that differentiates between moving objects (like players) and the field. The TV viewers of the four different signals will thereby be able to see different messages on their screens, via technology that makes the advertising look natural.

For example, a billboard touting an U.S. company can be replaced with a local marketer, such as Corona beer in Mexico -- while Brazilians see Brahma, Mr. Figueroa said. It can also slip in an image, like a bottle with a logo, on the screen or insert a message. Signs and other images can be made to react -- such as a flashing billboard when a local player scores -- and enhanced with sound effects.

Sports International will seek to bring in panregional advertisers, while its broadcaster partners will focus on local marketers. Virtual signage will not be used to replace any sponsor with an international deal with Turner's sales staff. Those companies include Canon and Sony.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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