Sports Authority Plays for 2

Seeks Separate Creative, Media Partners
ATLANTA–Sports Authority is in the early stages of an agency search, subsequent to last week’s resignation of the retail advertising account by The Lord Group.
The New York incumbent won both creative and media duties in 1997, and will perform those tasks through the end of the year.
According to a source who has spoken with the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based retailer, Sports Authority will undertake separate agency searches for the creative and media portions of the account. It is limiting both searches to East Coast shops that are easily accessible by air. The winners are expected to be named before the end of first-quarter 2000, said the source.
Last year, Sports Authority spent $28 million on advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Through June 1999, ad expenditures amounted to $16.9 million.
Sports Authority hired a new marketing senior vice president, Jeff Handler, in May. Handler, previously vice president of international marketing for Toys “R” Us and Kids “R” Us, declined to comment about the searches, saying only the reviews were in the early stages.
Though Sports Authority is launching an e-commerce tie-in later this year, the source said the creative search is limited to the brick-and- mortar store locations.
The Lord Group’s most recent TV ads, which touted back-to-school items, featured a character dubbed “Sports Authority” who drives a blue school bus. The character, who is part pitchman, part sports nut, was introduced last February.
–with Andrew McMain