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‘Coolest Game on Earth’ now just ‘The Coolest Game’

‘Coolest Game on Earth’ now just ‘The Coolest Game’

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The NHL will streamline its 5-year-old slogan, "The Coolest Game on Earth," this season by slicing off "on Earth" and introducing a new "The Coolest Game" logo, one that will be displayed along the dasherboards at every arena. NHL Enterprises President Ed Horne said the decision came after a round of focus groups in which fans consistently said the attributes they associate with hockey are "fast," "powerful" and "aggressive." The league wanted a logo and slogan to fit that description.

The tweak comes at a time when the NFL has decided to shelve its "Feel the Power" slogan in favor of a marketing push that stresses several league initiatives and goals as opposed to overall branding. The NHL, meanwhile, is trying hard to be consistent across all its communications, hoping that sponsors will also pick up "The Coolest Game" as a platform around which to build promotions and themed advertising.

The shortened slogan will appear on merchandise hang tags and be included in institutional advertisements that run during every local and national NHL broadcast. Horne added that when seeking new sponsors, the league is targeting companies that claim speed and power as attributes of their own, particularly in the telecommunications, Internet and airline categories.

  NFL DEVELOPS NEW SPOTS: The NFL will back its consumer products offerings this year by producing 11 television ads highlighting specific merchandise. All follow a template that begins with a few seconds of footage from NFL Films, with a key word like "protection" or "passion" flashing across the screen. The action is then replaced by a still shot of a product that represents the word, followed by a tag for the NFL Shop's toll-free phone number or Web address. Most of the spots are only 15 seconds long and will run in a back-to-back format with a similar spot for a different product from the same licensee.

Players featured in the ads include such stars as Brett Favre and Warren Sapp, along with retired greats Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and Joe Namath.

The ads, which will fill up league-controlled advertising inventory supplied by the networks under the current broadcast deal, made their debut with a pair of spots for Adidas products during last week's season premiere of "Monday Night Football." Spots for the Nike "Ligature" cap and jacket will roll out next, followed by ones for Puma's women's jersey, Riddell's fiber-optic replica helmet and the Wilson authentic football. It marks the first time the league has put any television advertising behind women's apparel, novelties or equipment.

The league's media plan calls for the spots to run enough times to generate 800 gross rating points, meaning that the ads will be seen by individuals about 800 million times. Last season, the media plan for NFL merchandise ads called for 1,000 gross rating points, but in the end the spots ran only about 60 percent as often as originally scheduled. A league official said the NFL has additional inventory at its disposal this year, a result of an agreement with ESPN to move Sunday night kickoff time back by 10 minutes, and therefore the campaign will get a heavy rotation on ESPN.

Both this year's and last year's ads employ the tag line "Inspired by the game."

 AT&T SETS OLYMPIC TIE-INS: Several business units of AT&T Corp. are staging local promotions tied to the company's sponsorship of USA Basketball, keying on the four U.S. markets where the men's and women's teams are staging pre-Olympic exhibitions. In Honolulu, where the men's and women's teams will play two games each, AT&T Wireless is offering two free tickets to a women's game in exchange for signing up for service. AT&T Consumer Services will stage a sweepstakes to send two winners to the Olympics in Sydney. Back in the continental United States, AT&T Wireless and Consumer Services are staging several promotions in San Antonio and Dallas, where the women's team will play its first two games, while AT&T Cable is offering its customers in Oakland a discount on game tickets, touting the offer through statement stuffers and a television spot aired only on AT&T cable systems.

WNBA and Team USA star Chamique Holdsclaw will probably be one of three Olympic athletes to appear on an AT&T prepaid calling card. She is slated to make an in-store appearance in San Antonio.

Andy Bernstein can be reached at abernstein@amcity.com.

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