Friday, September 24, 1999

Gibson wins Burger King promotion

Silly Slammers will be placed in kids' meals

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, drop the Silly Slammer.

        Gibson Greetings Inc. has an agreement with Burger King to offer a limited edition of its Silly Slammers bean-bag toys for Halloween. The deal acts out Gibson's plan to continue creating licensed lines of Slammers while also seeking a buyer for the business.

        Burger King will give one of five Halloween Silly Slammer collectibles with each Big Kids Meal or regular kids meal purchased Sept. 27 to Oct. 31. This is the card maker's first such arrangement with the international fast-food chain.

        Analysts say the deal lends credibility to Silly Slammers at a time when Gibson is trying to find a buyer.

        “I think it would be a decent-sized business,” analyst Jeff Stein said of the Burger King agreement. “I think it's a one-time hit.”

        Mr. Stein, with McDonald & Co. Securities in Cleveland, said the deal had not been figured into Silly Slammers' expected sales of $30 million this year, so it will be additive. But it doesn't mask a more important issue — that the Silly Slammers line may have peaked. In 1998, their first full year on the market, Silly Slammers generated $52 million in domestic sales.

        Gibson in July said it would put the Silly Slammers venture on the market as it focuses on its core card business and tries to become profitable. Gibson founded the toy line — a noteworthy innovation in the largely stodgy greeting card industry — in late 1997.

        The company has been mum on how the potential sale is going. Sources at Gibson and Burger King could not be reached Thursday.


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