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THE SOCIAL CLIMATE AND SPORTS MARKETING
Published October 31, 1994
In this morning's HARTFORD COURANT, Stephen Williams examines the sale of sneakers in urban areas compared with the suburbs. In Hartford, shoes from Nike, Reebok etc. are available in the suburbs, but not in the cities, because the large footwear makers "restrict sales of their products in efforts to protect their supplies and prices. That often means small retailers -- many of them urban -- can't get them. Ironically, athletic footwear and Timberland hiking boots and clothing is extremely popular in urban areas throughout the nation, and much of the footwear makers' advertising has an urban focus." Robert Logan, owner of an independent shoe store in North Hartford: "It's easier for young people in this neighborhood to get drugs than it is to get Nike merchandise." Footwear makers say distribution restrictions are "simply sound business decisions. If their products were sold at every retail outlet that wanted them," they claim it would drive the price down. The report gives many other examples of all the hurdles urban shoe retailers have had to jump in order to carry Nike, Reebok, Fila, Adidas or Timberland merchandise. Donovan Cooper, owner of a sportswear store: "All you have to do is go into any of the black stores and you don't see the merchandise. It's ironic that Michael Jordan is making millions of dollars promoting sneakers to young black kids." Nike spokesperson Keith Peters: "We do not address our advertising to the inner-city. ... [Michael Jordan and Spike Lee] are cultural icons. We are very sensitive and do a lot in the minority community" (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/31). TARGETING MINORITIES: In INSIDE SPORTS, Stedman Graham is critical of a lack of effort in marketing to women and minorities: "If the leaders in pro sports do not make a concentrated effort to attract young people, women and people of color to their games, where are sellout crowds of the future going to come from?" (INSIDE SPORTS, 12/94).