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BILL COSBY AND HIS AUTO RACING TEAM PACT WITH SERVICE MERCHANDISE

 NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Bill Cosby and the Service Merchandise Company, Inc. (NYSE: SME) have entered into a sponsorship and promotional agreement with historic implications for the sport of championship auto racing, it was announced by Raymond Zimmerman, Chairman of the Board of the Nashville-based company. The multi-million dollar deal centers around sponsorship by Service Merchandise of the CART team headed by Willy T. Ribbs, who broke one of the last remaining racial barriers in American sports last year as the first African- American to race at the Indianapolis 500. As part of the arrangement, Cosby will also be featured in television, radio, print and point-of- purchase advertising for the company.
 "People across America have welcomed Bill Cosby into their homes for the past two decades," stated Zimmerman. "We welcome Mr. Cosby to the Service Merchandise family as well and are delighted that he will be bringing the message of Service Merchandise's Quality, Selection and Value into the homes of millions of Americans."
 Providing Ribbs with the opportunity to compete equally with his peers in CART racing has been a cause celebre for Cosby over the past several years. In past statements, Cosby had equated Ribbs' predicament in not receiving adequate corporate sponsorship as if Jackie Robinson had taken the field without a glove and shoes. Ribbs and his Derrick Walker-Belnavis Team expect to debut their Service Merchandise-sponsored car at this year's Indianapolis 500.
 "This is a moment I've long waited for," stated Bill Cosby. "A man who has worked so hard for this opportunity will now be on an equal playing field. I am particularly happy that a company of Service Merchandise's quality and character has made this happen. Their success in merging age-old people skills with advanced technology is truly a good model for American business."
 Bill Cress, Group Vice President of Advertising/Marketing of Service Merchandise, added, "Our partnership will Bill Cosby and the CART racing team of Willy T. Ribbs offers us an array of exciting advertising opportunities in which to deliver our message."
 The deal was negotiated on behalf of Cosby and the Derrick Walker-Belnavis Team by William Morris Agency Senior V.P. Rick Hersh.
 Service Merchandise, "America's Leading Jeweler" and the nation's number one catalog store retailer, is a general merchandise retailer featuring over 10,000 jewelry and name brand products in the categories of home furnishings, luggage, electronics, cameras, sporting goods, toys and juvenile products. Founded in 1960, the Nashville-based company operates 371 Service Merchandise stores and two Kids Central USA stores in 37 states. In 1992, Service Merchandise reported sales in excess of $3.7 billion.
 -0- 4/1/93
 /CONTACT: Greg Winnett, Vice President of Community Relations, Service Merchandise, 615-660-7094, or David Brokaw of The Brokaw Company, 310-273-2060/
 (SME)


CO: Service Merchandise Company, Inc. ST: Tennessee IN: REA LEI ADV SU:

CM -- CH006 -- 1938 04/01/93 10:25 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:480
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