NBA FOULS OUT: TOYOTA SPURNS SPORTS AFTER STRIKE

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What happens when the big event you planned to sponsor doesn't happen? You take your money elsewhere - maybe permanently.

Consider Toyota. It usually spends 15 to 18 percent of its network TV budget on NBA games. But this season's strike prevented seven Toyota commercials from being broadcast. So the automaker moved the resulting $1.8 million advertising surplus to other NBC programs to help launch its Tundra full-sized pickup in June.

Toyota already had earmarked about 10 percent more spending in 1999, with much of it going to the Tundra, a vehicle it considers critical to its long-term strategy. "We look at this launch as comparable to a Lexus Division in terms of relevant importance," says David Pelliccioni, vice president of marketing for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Eventually, he says, the company hopes to sell 100,000 Tundras a year, roughly twice the volume of its full-sized T-100 pickup.

Toyota moved its extra NBA advertising budget to nonsporting venues, and Pelliccioni hints that network TV sports may have a tough time winning him back. "The costs," he complains, "are beyond what we think we receive."

Toyota makes its network buys up front, then allocates its ads as necessary to target specific buyers. Such flexibility is a plus, Pelliccioni agrees. But he also says Toyota is boosting its spending on interactive marketing, including its highly regarded Web site. He makes no secret of the fact that Toyota has turned down network sports packages recently because of the cost.

"It's one thing for the networks to pay the big fees to the leagues," Pelliccioni grouses, "but we can't absorb all those cost increases because we

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