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IS NIKE A TENNIS EVIL OR A TENNIS GOOD?
Published December 14, 1995
In the current issue of TENNIS magazine, columnist Peter Bodo addresses Nike's involvement in the sport and the controversy surrounding the company and its endorsers. In a piece entitled "Why Nike doesn't suck," Bodo writes while stars such as Boris Becker and Jana Novotna have complained that Nike has too much influence, "nobody is doing anything nearly as contemporary, effective and powerful as Nike" in tennis marketing. Bodo notes campaigns such as Nike's "guerilla tennis" ads featuring Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi "may be the only thing that stands between you and an image of tennis that is built around those lame U.S. Tennis Association TV commercials featuring kittens climbing on tennis balls or Chris Evert making a stiff, insipid pitch for tennis that has all the sex appeal of a public-service announcement. ... Nobody has been better able to project tennis as a sport that belongs on equal footing with the other major spectator sports than Nike." Bodo admits Nike is "taking over tennis," but adds, "Nike has stuck with tennis through thick and thin, riding out the bad times as well as riding high on the good ones. In advertising, they call that 'brand loyalty'" (TENNIS, 1/96). ON THE STREET: Nike shares rose $2.75 yesterday to a 52- week high of $63. Analysts credit the rise to "good sales of its products" -- including the Air Penny and Air Jordan models -- and strong interest in Nike's earnings report due out next week (DOW JONES NEWS SERVICE, 12/14).