In 1984, Daiwa introduced what they deemed an “All Star Lineup” of Regal Strike graphite rods. Rather than look to their fishing pro-staff for endorsements, though, they turned elsewhere, in this case to the world of more mainstream sports.
Who knew that Larry Bird was a walleye fiend? Or that Willie Stargell preferred spincast tackle?
It was a solid crew, to say the least. Larry Legend and Joe Montana need no introductions. Stargell was inducted into Cooperstown four years later. Bobby Allison has been deemed one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. Even Cromwell was a four-time Pro-Bowler and a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. However, the question begs to be asked: What the heck did they know about fishing?
As part of the promotion, not only was there a $3 rebate on rods, but you could get a Strike Force hat for $4.95 and be entered in a sweepstakes to go fishing with the (non-fishing) pro of your choice.
We haven’t checked competing magazines, but it seems pretty likely that no other periodicals featured Bo Dowden advertising jogging shoes or Jack Chancellor shilling for golf clubs. The whole concept seems a little silly, even if it may have been effective.
This also indicates that the sponsorship market for other sports hadn’t progressed much at that point and even superstars were grasping for straws. After all, Daiwa couldn’t have been paying Pepsi/Chevrolet/KFC money, could they? What would it cost today to get Peyton Manning, LeBron James or Dale Earnhardt Jr. to promote your crankbait or worm dunk? In all likelihood, unless they were true fish fanatics, it would be financially prohibitive.