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HAPPY SPIN YEAR: The presidential elections. The Olympics. The Internet. SPINdex couldn't have asked for a better lineup of heavily hyped marketing events for its inaugural season, but even we were surprised by the result of a yearlong analysis of media coverage of these and other key marketing stories.

Assessing only coverage dealing with advertising and marketing issues, the presidential campaign generated more than 2 million words of copy and 210 minutes of network newscast time from the SPINdex sample of influential media outlets, about twice the spin of the next biggest marketing story of the year.

Surprisingly, the No. 2 story was not the Olympics, traditionally the runner-up to the presidential campaign, but the Internet.

Marketing-related coverage of the Internet attracted half again as much coverage as the Summer Olympics. Both stories generated similar levels of TV coverage-68 minutes for the Internet and 60 for the Olympics. But the Internet attracted a disproportionate share of print media coverage, totaling 1.3 million words of copy vs. about 800,000 words for Olympics marketing coverage.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this month's special 1996 yearend edition of SPINdex was the No. 4 finisher. The Chicago Bulls beat every other event of the year in terms of marketing-related coverage. For example, Bulls marketing, including the various product endorsement roles played by its colorful members, attracted nearly twice as much coverage as the fifth biggest marketing story, the Food & Drug Administration's new tobacco ad rules.

Other precedent-setting marketing events of 1996 were barely in the media spin competition, including the highly controversial move by distilled spirits advertisers to air TV ads (ranked 11th for the year) and the Telecommunications Act (ranked 15th), which arguably will have a greater sustained impact on the

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