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Can Beaker the Bobsledder Be Far Behind?

Outside magazine, November 1997

Can Beaker the Bobsledder Be Far Behind?

One of Jim Henson's most popular hairballs starts shilling for U.S. shredders
By Adam Horowitz

Sometimes, even within the fickle world of sports marketing, marriages of spokesperson to product seem somehow predestined. So it is with the newly announced arrangement between Jim Henson Productions and the U.S. Snowboard Team, through which an appropriately radical Muppet character — none other than the beloved Animal — will serve as faceman for America's most attention-starved band of Olympic athletes. Indeed, as the nation's top shredders start the World Cup season this month with eyes toward their debut in Nagano, they'll be plastered with images of the plush toy with the Manson coif, who'll be featured on officially licensed boards, jackets, backpacks, and even lip balm. All in the name of broadening the sport's appeal among what Tom Kelly, director of communications for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, calls "snowboard-wish-to-be's." The Animal campaign "provides an opportunity for snowboarding to speak to a wide audience," says Kelly. "He's a rampant id, yet for all his unchecked passion, he's also a totally innocent spirit." Well, sure.

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