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CBS' "60 Minutes" profiled Nike and adidas' involvement with high school basketball players in "There's No Business Like Shoe Business." CBS' Lesley Stahl: "Nobody, not the Bulls, the Lakers or the Knicks, is more interested in finding the next Michael Jordan than Nike. ... So Nike, and its competitors like adidas, are searching the country. Searching for the hot NBA rookies, putting their shoes on the best college seniors. But what amazed us, is that they're also going after basketball babies." adidas' Sonny Vaccaro said that shoe companies start recruiting players when they're "eight, nine, ten, eleven-year-olds." Vaccaro, on what adidas gets out of finding a promising ten-year-old basketball player: "What you do, is you bring this person along, and hopefully he stays in the family." Stahl: "And then all the kids in the country will wear adidas?" Vaccaro: "That would be very nice." Stahl: "Nike and adidas have turned the summertime into a huge basketball bazaar, spending millions of dollars to corral every kid with a decent jump shot, betting that one or two of them will develop into superstars -- and human billboards." High school basketball talent scout Bob Gibbons, on the shoe wars over high school students and the high school summer camps: "It's way out of control, and I don't know how you get it back in control" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 10/26). NIKE'S TAKE: Stahl asked Nike Dir of Global Basketball Ralph Greene on its mission in supporting youngsters: "It's important for us to provide wonderful opportunities for kids who play great basketball. ... It's a very simple formula for us. And it really does start with performing, and being passionate about the game first, and the athletes first." Stahl, in response to Reed: "Selling shoes first." Reed: "No, no, no, no, no. It's the game first, then the passion for the game and understanding what athletes want." Gibbons, asked about Reed's "passionate about the game" statement: "I don't see them giving their product away to schools that do not have good players ... they love the schools that have the top players the best" (CBS, 10/26).
In FL, entrepreneur Dennis Valdez launched his Blue Marlin Beer six weeks ago and "immediately" sold out 1,500 cases, and now "can't keep Blue Marlin Beer in stock." Levy Restaurants and Pro Player Stadium began offering Blue Marlin Beer during the playoffs and served it at the club level during the World Series (SUN-SENTINEL, 10/25). ...Dennis Rodman, who wears Converse, said that he "doubts" he will wear his new Nike shooting shirt (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/25)....About 300 women are expected at a soldout "Football 101 for Ladies" class at Foxboro Stadium on Wednesday (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/26). "Extra" profiled the NFL's "Football 101 for Ladies" on Friday ("Extra," 10/24).
A coalition of women's groups, which includes NOW and the Ms. Foundation for Women, "has attacked Nike as hypocritical" for running new TV commercials that feature female athletes, while alleging the company pays "its largely female overseas work force poorly," according to Steven Greenhouse of the N.Y. TIMES. In a letter to Nike CEO Phil Knight, the coalition wrote, "While the women who wear Nike shoes in the United States are encouraged to perform their best, the Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese women making the shoes often suffer from inadequate wages, corporal punishment, forced overtime and/or sexual harassment." Nike Labor Issues spokesperson Vada Manager said the women's groups "misunderstood Nike's role." In Asia, its factories "pay considerably more than do most factories in those countries." The commercials "show women saying they will be stronger, healthier and more independent if they are allowed to play sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). USA TODAY's Dottie Enrico reports that the 15 women's organizations will hold a press conference Tuesday "urging" Knight to "increase wages and hire an independent local investigator" at Nike overseas factories (USA TODAY, 10/27).
The NBA is "now negotiating new four-year TV contracts" which could net the league "up to" 50% more than its current rights deals with NBC and Turner Sports, according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. NBA Exec VP/CMO Rick Welts: "The outcome of our television negotiations will determine how we will market ourselves over the next four years." Jensen adds that "many" of the league's current sponsorship deals, including McDonald's, Quaker Oats and Gatorade, "expire at the end of this season." But for NBA sponsors, a 50% increase in TV rights fees "will affect the cost of doing business with the NBA." Gatorade VP/Worldwide Sports Marketing Bill Schmidt: "We're always concerned about increases in sports TV rights fees because we all know who will pay for that." While NBC charged "an estimated" $80,000 for 30-second spots last season, up about 15% from '95, Turner will charge $19,000-20,000 per 30-second spot this season. But Jensen adds that "marketers will still buy the NBA because it delivers the demographics they need: teen-age and young adult males." Gatorade's Schmidt: "The NBA remains very hot with our consumers." The NBA's Welts added that the NBA will again "bundle" promo rights with TV time, but he added that the TV networks are "taking advertiser concerns into consideration," and that "it's possible that there will be fewer units available in the new packages, as they may include fewer games" (AD AGE, 10/27).