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SmithKline Beecham has entered the first-ever smoking cessation product sponsorship of a car to be driven in a major race that has a cigarette maker as its title sponsor. The Nicorette-NicoDerm CQ Champ Car will be driven in this month's Marlboro Grand Prix in Miami by ex-smoker Dennis Vitolo. The car also will appear at several events in the FedEx Championship Series. The auto is part of SmithKline Beecham's NicoTour '98 promoting Nicorette gum and the NicoDerm CQ patch. Accompanying the race car is the 34-foot NicoVan, staffed by counselors and pharmacists who dispense information and free "coping kits" to smokers.

Major League Baseball Properties is developing a fully staffed sponsorship department for the first time in several seasons. A team of account execs and new-business directors will be hired to handle and pitch categories including automotive, computers and consumer electronics. The move will help MLB become more pro-active in cultivating sponsors. Tom Worcester, a consultant to MLB Properties, currently serves as the acting VP-sponsorship.

Frito-Lay this month named Frankel & Co., Chicago, as its first promotion agency of record for Cracker Jack.

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