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It isn't quite in the league with the U.S.' Super Bowl, but European advertisers finally have a major sports sponsorship opportunity surrounding the European Union's Championship Soccer League.

TEAM, a Lucerne-based sports marketing company, created the first-of-a-kind program offering pan-European coverage as well as the ability to tailor ads and spon-sorships within individual markets. The basic package accommodates seven sponsors at $2.8 million apiece.

The $20 million-plus generated by the TEAM program is paltry compared to the $61 million spent on network TV advertising alone surrounding the single-event Super Bowl. But TEAM's effort is nonetheless a crucial first step in building a pan-European sports marketing base.

"Previously, we would have had to do all this ourselves and negotiate each ad and sponsor deal ourselves," said Stephen Hood, coordinator-advertising, direct marketing and media for Ford Motor Co.

TEAM's program offers sponsorships pegged to a nine-month, 61-game soccer season, culminating in a final round of playoffs in the spring among Europe's leading soccer teams. The League games reach 35 European countries. TEAM guarantees sponsors 3 billion viewers, or an average of 250 million, for every match across Europe.

Ford used the sponsorship this fall to unveil its new Mondeo V6 model and plans to introduce its Galaxy multi-purpose vehicle across Europe in the League's semi-finals and again in the finals next spring. Ford's London office coordinates the TEAM deal with its agencies Ogilvy & Mather Europe and U.K.-based events specialist Prism.

For an additional fee, TEAM also arranges commercial time on any of the 26 national stations and Europe-wide satellite-delivered Euro-sport, telecaster of the games. Heineken's Amstel took advantage of that deal, running ads on Euro-sport and national stations in Holland, Greece, Portugal and Hungary, on top of its basic package.

Amstel's basic package includes four perimeter signs at each stadium within TV camera view, one page color ad in each local program guide, published for each game, and VIP tickets.

"We want to use the Championship League for the European push," said Chris Woerts, sponsorship manager for Amstel, introduced into most of Europe just this year.

Mr. Woerts said the TEAM program solves many cross-border marketing problems, such as how to expand Amstel beer into new markets, how to promote it in countries where alcohol advertising is banned and how to target hard-to-reach young males who drink the most beer.

One Amstel spot running on Eurosport and created by Lintas Nederland, Amsterdam, shows men watching a soccer game together around a TV. One opens the refrigerator to get some beer, but instead of a can of Amstel, he finds a shining winner's cup, engraved with the Amstel name.

Other marketers signed to three-year TEAM contracts are Reebok International; Canon Europa, Philips International, Europay International and an unnamed tire company.

"What we've achieved is the ability to provide [media] buying opportunities all over Europe," but with a custom-tailed program, said Jurgen Lenz, TEAM founder and managing director.

Mr. Lenz should know: He's founder of ISL Marketing, creator of The Olympic Program's global sponsorship package.

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