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WHAT'S IN A NAME? TO CORPORATIONS THAT PROMOTE SPORTS, A GREAT DEAL
Jim Kaplan
November 10, 1980
In June 1973, when Secretariat became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, the public was clamoring to see the colt compete as often as possible. Secretariat's schedule was of particular interest to a Philip Morris executive named Jack Landry, a racing buff who had worked at Saratoga as a kid. Landry felt Secretariat could easily handle a race during the six-week break between the Travers and Woodward stakes. No such event existed, but Landry had an idea for one. He suggested to Secretariat's owner, Penny Tweedy, and New York Racing Association President Jack Krumpe, that Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes sponsor a match race between Secretariat and his stablemate, Riva Ridge, the event to be called the Marlboro Cup.
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November 10, 1980

What's In A Name? To Corporations That Promote Sports, A Great Deal

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But the subject isn't closed. The sports editors agreed to study the question of "taste" in sponsor identification. For instance, members of the all-male executive committee frowned on crediting StayFree maxi-pads. There was general agreement that headline-clogging titles should be used in a shorter form; the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winners Circle golf tournament, for example, should be simply called the Dinah Shore. In an attempt to accommodate this thinking, the LPGA recently changed the tournament's name to the Colgate-Dinah Shore. And any corporation that begins sponsoring a long-standing event and dares to rename it—say, the Avon Kentucky Derby—is certain to meet with resistance.

Nonetheless, those arbiters of taste, The New York Times and The Washington Post, forge ahead with their new policy of total corporate recognition. "I think it's presumptuous of us to tell the people who run tournaments what to call them," says George Solomon, assistant managing editor/sports of the Post. "If the people who run the Derby decide to call it the Avon Kentucky Derby, who are we to tell them not to?" Adds Le Anne Schreiber, who ran the Times sports section until a few weeks ago, "If you edit out the name of a corporation, you give a false impression. Sponsors legally buy the right to have their name in the title."

But these arguments ignore a newspaper's editing responsibility. If a title is cumbersome or irrelevant, readers aren't served by having to look at it. Nor is the press obliged to use a legal name. The official title of the National League, for instance, is the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. And, yes, free advertising is just that. Ray Volpe's case notwithstanding, it's pretty certain most readers couldn't care less if they read euphemisms instead of precise tournament titles.

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