Media Bites on Barry Sanders' Marketing Move

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Former pro football star Barry Sanders' recent announcement at his Web site that he would remain in retirement was designed to attract media attention and promote the launch of BarrySandersDirect.com, which debuted the same day.


"We wanted to use the [announcement] as the lead horse, if you will, for the site," said Gregory Hebner, vice president at Athletes Direct, a division of Broadband Sports, Santa Monica, CA, the firm that launched the site.


Apparently, it worked. TV station ESPN and Web publications NYTimes.com and USAToday.com -- among other national media outlets -- picked up the story, providing mention and sometimes a link to www.barrysandersdirect.com.


The site features several columns written by Sanders and an e-commerce channel that includes autographed jerseys and footballs as well as vintage football cards for the athlete.


Viewer statistics and sales figures for the site's debut week -- Nov. 13-19 -- were not made available. However, Hebner said, BarrySandersDirect.com generated more activity during that time than any of his firm's 200 other sites for professional athletes did.
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