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Sports apparel marketer Logo 7 is looking to O.J. Simpson's murder trial to maximize exposure for its $7 million TV campaign.

A humorous spot that broke Aug. 21 from Hoffman York & Compton, Milwaukee, stars Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. A second commercial, to be unveiled Aug. 27, features Mr. Aikman delivering an anti-violence message. The commercial could pass for a public service announcement if not for the extensive Logo product placement.

The strategy is to capitalize on the hype surrounding the Simpson murder trial, set to begin Sept. 19.

"We wanted to break it when the trial began, right when the whole case would once again be top of mind with Americans," said Channing W. Souther, Logo VP-marketing.

The anti-violence spot runs through Thanksgiving during National Football League programming on ESPN, Fox and Turner Network Television.

Muscular marketing has become the law of the jungle in the $7 billion licensed sportswear industry. Indianapolis-based Logo ranks second to Starter Corp., with 3.6% market share based on 1993 sales estimated at $250 million.

After years of fad-fueled growth, the category is headed for consolidation as its growth rate drops from double to single digits. Retailers are ordering less from fewer suppliers and the more profitable companies are getting gobbled up by the larger marketers.

One example is Fruit of the Loom, which this month acquired Daniel Young International, Secaucus, N.J., marketer of the Pro Player brand.

"You're going to see the large companies start solidifying their positions and focus their marketing efforts at the die-hard sports fan. Eventually, the category will be dominated by only 10 significant players," said Andrew Gaffney, editor, Sporting Goods Business, New York.

Logo's fall campaign will partner with retailers like Champs, J.C. Penney Co. and Sports Authority for promotions in key markets, including Indianapolis, Green Bay, Wis., and Phoenix. The co-op effort will be supported by separate print, outdoor and TV creative, with the media budget funded in part by NFL Properties.

Logo has just landed a license to market NBA Authentics, the pro basketball league's upscale apparel line. Three commercials, each featuring Chris Webber of the Golden State Warriors, will air next spring.

Mr. Souther said one of the spots will tackle a serious social issue. Logo's 1995 media spending should top $12 million.

New Haven, Conn.-based Starter Corp., with 1994 sales projected at more than $350 million, three years ago was the first in the category to begin advertising.

It climbed to No. 1 by riding the late '80s licensed sports apparel fashion craze, with about a 5% market share.

The marketer returned to its sports roots this year with two TV spots that feature an array of athletes, including Larry Bird, Lenny Dykstra and Karl Malone. The TV spots were created by recently deposed agency Damian Bisch & Partners, New York.

Starter spends about $12 million on advertising, but its budget could hit $16 million to $20 million next year.

The first creative from new agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, is due next spring and continues that approach with ads focusing on individual athletes.

The campaign includes two TV spots touting signature apparel lines from another Dallas Cowboy, Emmitt Smith, and track and field Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

"In a mature market, advertising and marketing will be a strong tool in gaining more market share. And next spring, we're going to turn up the heat in our creative and media buying," said Ian Gomar, Starter's VP-marketing.

No. 3 Apex One, Piscataway, N.J., successfully entered the ad arena last year with a spot from Partners & Shevack, New York, starring Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones and then-coach Jimmy Johnson. The company spends about $5 million on advertising, with a new national campaign breaking this fall.

Also this fall Apex will redesign a number of team uniforms-the Cowboys and a bevy of college teams among them-and introduce licensed spin-offs during the holiday season.

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