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IS LI'L PENNY THE SAVIOR OF THE FALL BASKETBALL MARKET?
Published September 16, 1997
Nike "will once again call upon spokespuppet Li'l Penny to talk up its basketball products this fall and winter," according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. In addition to Nike's TV ad campaign from OR-based Wieden & Kennedy, Crown Publishers has a Li'l Penny book and Playmates Toys has two Li'l Penny dolls hitting the market. In one TV spot to debut in November, L'il Penny is reading his book, "Knee High & Livin' Large," which will be released that month. Around the "same time," Playmates will issue two dolls, one with a "voice supplied by Chris Rock." Crown and Playmates "will support" with their "own publicity, and local retailer and radio promotions" (ADVERTISING AGE, 9/15). THE MARKET: The "basketball segment has sagged lately," and "industry experts" report that '97 back-to-school sales of basketball shoes were down 10%, "with consumers scoffing at prices that last year were tolerated." As for other brands, Reebok's top endorser, Allen Iverson, was recently arrested and "his marketability is being questioned;" No. 3 adidas America has a "hot brand," but "an unproven spokesperson" in Laker Kobe Bryant; No. 4 Fila USA has Grant Hill, "an icon" who can "move shoes," but Jensen adds that Fila "must improve on last year's line" (AD AGE, 9/15). STAR FLIGHT: Kate Starbird of the ABL Reign said she has signed a shoe deal with Nike in a deal "just finalized about a month ago" (ESPN SportsZone, 9/15)....Raptor rookie Tracy McGrady, and his deal with adidas, is profiled by Craig Daniels of the TORONTO SUN. Robert Erb, adidas marketing exec: "We're not as big (as Nike). We don't have as much money to throw around. If we're to catch Nike, how do we do that? With intelligent risk" (TORONTO SUN, 9/16).