Sports & Entertainment Adds Country Music to Roster

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Sports & Entertainment Direct, Marietta, GA, last week signed Country Music as its newest advertiser in an existing stable of direct response advertising clients. The magazine will promote subscriptions at sports and entertainment-related events and concerts and is one of a handful of new direct response advertisers in the past two months in the company's cooperative advertising and sampling on-site distribution program.

The new clients include Seattle Filmworks, Styles Checks and MBNA. Advertisers choose to participate in cooperative advertising "goodie bags" and/or have booth presence manned with Sports & Entertainment Direct sales representatives.

Sports & Entertainment Direct, now an independent company, was formed as a division of Lifestyle Change Communications last January; the company was sold by owner Robert Perlstein in June, who kept the Sports & Entertainment division and kept it intact to form the new entity.

"We're creating a cooperative environment so that there's a shared cost and a better return on investment," said Chuck Steveskey, vice president of event promotions at Sports & Entertainment Direct.

Sports & Entertainment distributes "exit bags" -- plastic bags filled with promotional direct response materials and product samples at various stadium exit points at more than 20 events per year, including the Super Bowl -- and touts itself as "a direct marketing distribution company." It also provides manned booths for select marketers inside stadium and event halls. Cooperative exit bag costs range from roughly $50 to $100 per thousand.

Direct mail and stamp sheet subscription selling is down across the industry, and many publishing companies continue to look for alternatives to connect with subscribers using nontraditional marketing tactics. "This is one of those things that is nontraditional circulation-building, and those are the things we're forced to try right now because of rate base concerns and the lack of stamp sheet production." said Dave Rock, circulation director for Country Music. "It makes us more consumer marketers than straight circulation number crunchers."

Country Music, which is in the process of finalizing a deal with Sports & Entertainment to have presence at 15 to 20 events next year, may expand their relationship to include in-field promotions particularly at future NASCAR events, although no firm decisions have been made yet. "There's a carnival-like atmosphere," said Rock. Those promotions may include a sweepstakes program delivered by on-site reps dressed in cowboy hats and free country music CDs as promotional giveaways.

"My research shows that you have a tremendous amount of country music fans at NASCAR, so the potential for a new subscriber is likely higher than doing direct mail."

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