The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 5, 1976 · Page 78
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 78

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 5, 1976
Page 78
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Page 78 article text (OCR)

E6 Palm Beach Post-Times, Sunday, December 5, 1976 SeEIlnimg of the MMeie Simpson Helping Hertz Stay No. 1 be creditable athletes and be entertaining." "Other times, we'll come up with the idea and work the athletes into it, such as the commercial with Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and the 'Beer-Drinkers' Hall of Fame.' "Then, of course, there are the natural ones, like Tom Heinsohn getting thrown out of the bar by Mendy Rudolph, or Bernie Geoffrion being charged by a hockey team." w - , v vv . : I 1 Ml L v v vp- represents the firm that made the commercial. "The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) prohibits us from showing it in the children's programming hours." The NAB reasons that kids might badger their parents incessantly to buy them a toy promoted by a hero-worshipped athlete. Such a prohibition doesn't matter much to Ideal, however, since it is still the parents who purchase the toys. "Television advertising has such a significant effect on the sales of our products," Levay said. "When we used Greene, it was not the first time we've had an athlete represent us. "What we can't do is use Evel Knievel to advertise his toys. That is prohibited by the NAB. But we can use a personality like Knievel or Greene to advertise other products by Ideal." In trying to sell toys, the sponsors obviously are aiming at a sptcific audience. In fact, most of the products represented by sports stars appeal to limited portions of the public. "We have to appeal to the 18- to 49-year-old male, the beer drinkers," said a representative of Miller Beer's advertising agency. "We do 90 per cent of our advertising during sports shows, so 90 per cent of our celebrities are noted sportsmen." And all of them are retired. "The effect on consumers of our varying commercials, all with sports stars, has been great," the Miller representative said. "We don't need the $400,000 athlete. All we want is for the guys to have some validity, "For instance, we signed Jimmy Connors just before he won Wimbledon. When we shot the commercial, Connors was on all the sports pages. Everybody knew who he was when they saw him sponsoring BRUT." Simpson's advertisements for Hertz have had a profound effect on the company's sales and advertising strategy. "This is the second year we've used O. J.," a Hertz spokesman said, "and we have had a 36 per cent increase in the number of people rating Hertz as No. 1 in car rental. "We base our entire advertising campaign on the speed and reliability with which we provide cars for businessmen. Close to 90 per cent of our clients are businessmen. "To illustrate the theme of speed and reliability, we chose someone . who is well known for those traits. 0. J. is the first spokesman we have used for the company and he is the basis of our (Superstar in Rent-A-Car) advertising." What Hertz is attempting to do is equate the best in one field Simpson the football player with what it considers the best in another field Hertz the car renter. Other advertisers are taking a different approach while utilizing athletes in their promotions. Ideal Toys uses Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle (Mean) Joe Greene to demonstrate the durability of one of its products, a toy truck. In the ad, Greene clobbers the toy as if it was an opposing quarterback, but he doesn't dent it. "We only use that advertisement in prime time," said Hal Levay, who By BARRY WILNER AP Sports Writtr 0. J. cuts to his right. He darts left. He weaves in and out of traffic. He leaps free and is gone. O. J. Simpson on one of his incomparable touchdown dashes, right? Well, not exactly. You see, Simpson is wearing an expensive suit, not a uniform. He is carrying a suitcase, not a football. And he is working for a car rental firm, not the Buffalo Bills. Simpson is perhaps the most visible of the well-known modern athletes. Not all of his popularity is due to his heroics on the field, nor to his roles in motion pictures. In fact, Simpson is seen more often in television commercials than he is in National Football League action. Many professional sportsmen are being featured in advertisements for a multitude of products. Just turn on the television or open a magazine and you're apt to see Alex Karras sponsoring toys, Joe Namath pushing popcorn, Muhammad Ali waxing poetic on the fragrance of a men's cologne, George Blanda selling trucks, Jimmy Connors guzzling a soft-drink, Jack Nicklaus endorsing a credit card, Jo Jo White promoting sneakers, or a batch of football players modeling underwear. "Having someone who is easily recognizable representing your product is a great asset," says Allan Ford, director of advertising for Fa-berge, makers of BRUT, a men's fragrance. "We look for men in the news, at the peaks of their careers. Then we lean on a public relations angle. THIS WEEK'S SPECIAL BANANAS 5' lb LETTUCE 10- Head GRAPEFRUIT 25S1.00 ' 3 McCormack Helped Palmer (Above) Get Wealthy . . . 'agent' didn't invent golfer in Latrobe laboratory McCormack Made Palmer Famous HART MARINE CONST, inc. GIANT PnE-GIiniSTMAS SALE SAVE Licensed Marine Contractor DAVIT & BOAT HOIST SALES t SERVICE O DOCKS O PILINGS O SEAWALL SEALING - INSTALLED O GALV. MARINE LADDERS AUTOMATIC lOOO CC AAOTO-GUZZI (Sorry, 1 ONLY) WHEELS UNLIMITEDCYCLE SALVAGE SUNSET LAME, V.P.B. MON-SAT 9:00-6 PHONE 684-0210 Jim Murray mmmmm , It 1 1 (( ( can 044-2207 .. oii oont Uail tllU-U I CC of C. U8072 I JJ CC of C U8072 II . SPiilllC AIM RADIO ( 2 Mini Size For All Cars. 5" Hi-Fidelity nil T5 v' on j speakers, tasy installation under dash, glove box, etc. rr-iR THESE RffflfYEM" ts5pekHo5 tH'S QUAKER STATE 10w30, SHELL, HAVULINE & GULF 10w40 MOTOR OIL LIMIT 6 FMX10 HOLLYWOOD SUPER FUNNEL 26 3 SPAHMAIIC FM STEREO RADIO NRS FENDER COVER QT. You can tell right away Mark H. McCormack isn't an "agent." He's too tall. He's too blond. He doesn't smoke cigars, call people "Baby," make noise eating soup, or drop names. "Agents," he says icily, "are short, fat guys who book bands." Mark McCormack looks more like the leader-in-the-clubhouse at the end of the third round than a 10 percenter. All the same, he may be the greatest flesh peddler in the gamy history of the business. Every time you see a headline about old Socks Somebody-Or-Other signing a $5 million contract to play left field someplace, you should know that, without Mark McCormack, those kinds of numbers wouldn't be possible. There are a great many people who even believe Mark McCormack invented Arnold Palmer in a laboratory in Latrobe, Pa. Palmer, you will recall, is the first guy who ever made $1 million in golf and $40 million out of it. McCormack came within a whisker of getting him named general manager of the world in his heyday. Arnold was everything from grand marshal of the Rose Parade to international laundry tycoon before McCormack got through with him. Arnold hasn't won a major tournament in almost 13 years. But he's a lot more famous than anybody who won one last week. McCormack, more than anyone else, revolutionized the sports business. McCormack is not the kind of agent who laughs at his clients' jokes, or picks up his daughter at school. McCormack is the kind of agent the client has to get an appointment to see. There is a school of thought which holds that agents ruined Hollywood (mainly by getting their clients percentages of the movies they made) and that they will perform a similar disservice for professional sports. Actually, professional sports will probably be ruined by the same thing that ruined Hollywood television. But, there can be very little doubt that agents have demolished the infrastructure of sports, the ever-lovin' reserve clause, the inden-tured-slavery rule which limited the freedom of movement of the athlete and bound him to one employer for all his athletic life. Like many agents, McCormack was a lawyer first, an agent last. So he knew unconstitutionality when he saw it. But unlike most agents, McCormack was not content just to take his pound of flesh. In the first place, McCormack preferred not to deal in team sports. (But, when he did, he made headlines: He got $3.5 million for Csonka, Kiick and Warfield from the World Football League, and decimated the Miami Dolphins' "dynasty.") McCormack not only got money for his hired hands, he found work for them. He staged tournaments, packaged TV shows, and formed leagues for them. ; Mark was just a $5,000-a-year lawyer who took the bus to work in Cleveland when he linked up with Arnold Palmer. Up to then, professional athletes pretty much handled their own affairs or "mishandled" would be a better word. "I think Frank Scott used to get 'tie-ins' for the New York Yankees. Or SI 32" x 24" LARGE Minisize For All Cars. Solid State. Auto matic Stereo Switching. Illuminated Dial. book them on the Ed Sullivan Show. But nobody was really representing them in the counting-house," recalls McCormack. He started out booking golfing exhibitions for the touring pros. A scratch player who played in four U.S. Amateurs, and one U.S. Open ("I led at Tulsa in 1958 after five holes but I got so busy practicing my acceptance speech in the press tent, I wound up missing the cut"), McCormack soon found himself swamped with requests for Palmer. "A lot of country clubs were interested in booking exhibitions. As obvious as it seems today, no one was handling that business then." McCormack soon outgrew the stuffy law business. When Palmer asked him to handle all his business, McCormack said, "I was appalled at the one-sidedness of the contracts. They were getting product identification with the U.S. Open and Masters champion for about what they pay a truck driver." McCormack did not wait for television to come to him, he came to television. He packaged golf, tennis and ski shows and the highly successful superstars shows. All of a sudden, he was a conglomerate with offices in 13 countries, 300 employes and, once, his very own blood clot on the brain the dueling scar of the American businessman. Sports agency is a flourishing business today, thanks to Mark McCormack. He not only made Arnold Palmer a multi-millionaire, he made Mark McCormack one. He did the same for Gary Player, Larry Csonka and Jean-Claude Killy. There should be a statue to him in every professional athlete's trophy room and a plaque at Cooperstown. Catfish Hunter, Andy Messersmith, Joe Rudi and Reggie Jackson all owe a low bow to Palmer and McCormack, who begat a chain reaction in personal management which has altered the fabric of sports irrevocably. Of all the people who left school in 1954, the athlete who would do the most to change the games people play was an obscure member of the golf team at William and Mary M.H. McCormack. I asked this pioneer what he thought of his handiwork, now that the million-dollar contract has become commonplace. McCormack, who was between planes at the time, paused. "Fifteen years ago," he said, "sports personalities tended to be vastly overpaid. But if you are asking me if sports will cancel itself out or die on a cross of gold, I would say, no, the law of supply and demand will eventually level it off. Sports is, after all, a business and, despite the ego trip of an occasional owner, it will conduct itself as a ' business in the end." 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