Tiger Woods signs up for Asahi soft drinks

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TOKYO -- Golf superstar Tiger Woods has signed a three- year deal with Asahi Soft Drinks Co. Ltd. to endorse a new line of can coffee drinks that will hit the Japanese market in the fall of this year.

The deal marks Woods' first commercial contract with a Japanese company. Asahi Breweries, the drink maker's parent, did not disclose the terms of the deal, but Dow Jones reported industry sources as saying the golf star will get several million dollars from the company.

"We see Tiger Woods as a person who is ready to accept a sports challenge and his endorsing our new product should have a major impact for Japanese consumers," a company spokesman said.

The company has yet to decide on a name for its new product, but Asatsu Inc will handle the advertising.

TV commercials are scheduled to be shot with Woods in the U.S. at the end of August, to appear in Japan in the middle of September.

Although the content of the spots has yet to be decided, Asatsu says they will be centered on Woods' appeal as a golf player and should include golf scenes. There are no plans for Woods to visit Japan as part of the campaign.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo is the most prominent athlete pitching can coffee in Japan at present. Nomo signed an endorsement deal with Kirin Beverage in 1995 for its "Jive" can coffee product. Officials at Kirin Beverage said sales of its Jive product skyrocketed when Nomo's image was put on cans of the coffee for its "American Blue" campaign.

Can coffee is typically sold in vending machines in Japan at about $1 a can and accounts for about a fifth of the domestic beverage market by sales.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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