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Ballroom dancing is taking center stage for certain sponsors as it gains new popularity among a wide swath of consumers.

Lancome recently became the first major sponsor of Dancesport Championships, a new 27-city U.S. tour attracting thousands of competitors and spectators of all ages.

Separately, artistic crystal manufacturer Swarovski America also signed on recently as the exclusive national sponsor of Championship Ballroom Dancing, the field's top event. The Swarovski-sponsored event will air May 6 on Public Broadcasting Service stations, expected to draw as many as 10 million viewers.


Ballroom dancing has been on the upswing for the last five years, and has gained even more popularity since it was recognized by the International Olympic Committee. It is expected to become an official sport as early as the 2004 Games.

Several other potential sponsors are currently in discussions with TVG Marketing & Consulting, a Greenwich, Conn.-based marketing company coordinating sponsorships of the national tour. Categories being negotiated include the automotive, financial services, beverages and apparel industries.

"The return of classic styles and attitudes, the martini movement and an appreciation for quality products and services is what's driving consumer interest in ballroom dancing-and sponsors are very interested in such an audience," said Alfredo Valdes, managing partner at TVG.

Lancome plans to use its role as official cosmetics marketer of the tour to leverage on-site marketing opportunities targeting ballroom dancers and spectators at events.

Swarovski used its sponsorship of the championship event, taped in November, for on-site sponsorship.

Its target audience includes dancers whose costumes frequently feature Swarovski crystals; the company also markets high-end sculptures and art objects.

"Ballroom dancers fit our target market perfectly, because we sell romance and beauty. It's a natural," said Vicki Veh, Swarovski's marketing director.

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