Dodge dealers, hit with highly publicized criticism from female customers, on Dec. 17 forced DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group tostrip its sponsorship of the Lingerie Bowl, according to the Detroit Free Press
."I think it had become a distraction to what we want to do next year," said James Kenyon, aChrysler Group spokesman, according to the Free Press
. "We didn't want to spend the next six to eight weeks dealing with this in the media."Kenyon said the decision came Dec. 17 after several complaints from Dodge dealers, female buyers and women who work for Chrysler, the Free Press
reported.The bowl, which will go on without the Dodge backing, is slated to be broadcast as a separate, pay-per-view attraction during the halftime of the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.The Lingerie Bowl was originally billed as a tackle football game between two teams of seven models. But at a dealer meeting Dec. 17, which included about 200 dealers from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, Chrysler executives were toldpotential female Dodge buyers were angry, according to the Free Press
."One dealer said he had a female buyer in his store and the woman told him that she would never buy Dodge if the company sponsored" such a thing, said a Michigan dealer who was at the meeting but asked not to be identified, the Free Press
said. The dealer also said a Dodge vice president of sales and marketing told the group the decision to sponsor the bowl was to attract more buyers between the agesof 18 and 34.Dodge expected the viewership to be high with an expected 40 million watchers, according to the Free Press
. Dealers were then asked, by a show of hands, if they supported the bowl. The majority did not, the newspaper reported.