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  • CHICAGO EVENT SPONSOR AMERITECH NOT SOLD ON WTA RENEWAL

              Ameritech "won't commit to an extension" of its three-
         year WTA Tour sponsorship, according to Len Ziehm of the
         CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.  Brian Fitzgerald, Dir of the Ameritech 
         Cup in Chicago, "spent considerably more time than usual"
         monitoring the event last week, "and "didn't like much of
         what he saw regarding the WTA's organizational efforts."
         Fitzgerald: "I look at it from a marketing point of view,
         and they're missing a lot.  They make it so difficult to
         market their sport because they don't know who's playing
         when.  Match times are always subject to change.  They've
         got to bring some organizational sanity to it."  Fitzgerald
         said that while IMG has "made significant inroads in
         attendance" this season, it may not be enough "to keep its
         tournament sponsor."  Fitzgerald believes "far bigger crowds
         are possible."  Fitzgerald: "If I could, I'd publish
         brackets with the time each match is going to be played. 
         That's the prime reason we don't draw crowds early in the
         week.  Monica Seles is the top draw in tennis, but for a
         tournament to properly market, it's got to be able to tell
         people when [Seles] is going to play" (SUN-TIMES, 11/9).
    
    

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  • MARKETPLACE ROUND-UP

              Replica "99" Statue of Liberty jerseys with Wayne
         Gretzky's name misspelled, "Gretkzy" as it was for an
         October 30 game, will be on sale at MSG this week for $999
         (N.Y. POST, 11/9).....The Pacers have hired NJ-based
         Integrated Sports Int'l to market naming rights for its new
         Indianapolis Fieldhouse arena (ISI).
    
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Indiana Pacers, Madison Square Garden, New York Liberty
  • NIKE CAN'T SHAKE LABOR DAZE: ERNST & YOUNG STUDY RELEASED

              Working conditions at Nike-contracted factories in
         Vietnam and Asia were in the news again over the weekend as
         findings from an audit conducted for Nike by Ernst & Young
         was obtained by the media.  The report found "many unsafe
         conditions" at a Nike factory near Ho Chi Minh City where
         workers "were exposed to carcinogens that exceeded local
         legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant" and
         showed that 77% "of the employees suffered from respiratory
         problems."  The Ernst & Young report was highlighted in a
         front-page feature by Steven Greenhouse in Saturday's N.Y.
         TIMES.  The findings also showed that employees were "forced
         to work 65 hours a week, far more than Vietnamese law
         allows, for $10 a week."  Greenhouse: "The inspection report
         offers an unusually detailed look into conditions at one of
         Nike's plants at a time when the world's largest athletic
         shoe company is facing criticism from human rights and labor
         groups that it treats workers poorly" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/8). 
         As the study was released to the media, Nike issued the
         complete report findings in a news conference on Friday
         afternoon.  The audit was conducted in November '96 and
         submitted to Nike in January '97.  Vada Manager, Nike Senior
         Manager for PR, said the company has taken steps to improve
         factory working conditions upon receiving the report,
         including reducing overtime hours and restricting the work
         week; upgrading the ventilation systems; and ensuring proper
         safety equipment for workers.  Manager: "Clearly, this
         report is not a whitewash.  By the recommendations cited in
         this audit and steps Nike has taken to improve the working
         conditions, it is clear that our system works" (Nike).
              REAX:  The FINANCIAL TIMES' William Lewis called the
         report "embarrassing" for Nike (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/10).
         ...In N.Y., Phil Mushnick asks, "Where do all the Nike-
         bought social activists go when these reports are revealed?
         ... And how many TV networks take a dive on these stories
         because Nike spends millions advertising $150 slave-wage-
         made, status symbol sneakers to kids?" (N.Y. POST, 11/10).
         ...In Washington, DC, "more than" 50 lawmakers called on
         Nike "to improve labor standards in Third World factories
         and to employ more people" in the U.S.  A letter to Nike
         Chair Phil Knight said, "As members of the U.S. Congress we
         are deeply disappointed and embarrassed that a company like
         Nike, headquartered in the United States, could be so
         directly involved in the ruthless exploitation of hundreds
         of thousands of desperate Third World workers."  The letter
         was spearheaded by Rep. Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Rep.
         Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) (BLOOMBERG/NEWSDAY, 11/10)....At UNC-
         Chapel Hill, "roughly" 200 students rallied Friday afternoon
         and "vowed to pressure Nike to improve its labor practices."
         UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Michael Hooker defended the
         university's athletic marketing partnership with Nike but
         did promise a campus committee would review future corporate
         relationships at the university (NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/8). 
    
    

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  • NIKE, PART II: OREGONIAN GOES ON-SIGHT AND TALKS WITH KNIGHT

              In Portland, Jeff Manning, who spent a month in Asia
         examining Nike and other companies' business practices,
         debuted part one of his three-part series on Sunday that
         included a "rare" interview with Nike Chair Phil Knight. 
         Manning wrote that Nike products "more than doubled" over
         the past three years, "forcing the company and its
         subcontractors to crank up production.  That, in turn,
         increased the heat on workers and, in some cases, led to
         outright abuse.  The resulting backlash promises to dog Nike
         well into the 21st century."  Manning: "Nike has become an
         international incident."  Knight is "by turns furious and
         philosophical" abouth the criticism: "For whatever reason,
         we've been the poster boy on globalization.  That's a very
         emotional topic" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/9).
              WORKING HISTORY: Manning traced Nike's working
         relationships with Asian factories and wrote that by '97,
         "that network spanned 33 countries on four continents and
         had presented Nike with a complex set of issues, many
         cultural differences and occupational health standards."  In
         the interview, Knight said the labor controversy is not
         hurting business, even with a 20% drop in stock price since
         January 1.  Knight: "I don't attribute that to the fact that
         we're getting any sort of resistance from our core
         customer."  Nike officials say that critics are "unfairly
         singling out their company and are distorting" the issue. 
         Knight: "Nike creates a lot of emotion.  A lot of that
         emotion is positive.  But there's a flip side to that. ...
         The people who are turned off by the emotion that we
         generate really want to believe these things.  They
         basically view us as a rebel that should be taken down." 
         Manning: "As serious as Nike's image problem has become, the
         company has no plans to change its hugely profitable
         subcontracting strategy.  The cost-cutting expertise of the
         subcontractors produces profit margins and cash that
         domestic manufactures find hard to match" (OREGONIAN, 11/9).
    
    

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  • NIKE REVOLTS AGAINST "ANTIAUTHORITY" TALK IN CHINESE MARKET

              The first Nike ads "developed specifically for the
         Chinese market, star local hoopsters and make earnest
         appeals to Chinese nationalism," according to Sally Goll
         Beatty of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  As Nike has been "stung"
         by critics of its aggressive marketing tactics overseas, the
         company "is starting to play down its rebel image outside
         the U.S.," including "doing away with the antiauthority
         rhetoric" and avoiding its U.S. stars.  Nike Dir of Global
         Ad Geoffrey Frost said that Chinese youth "admire Michael
         Jordan," but by using local athletes Nike is "letting people
         know in China we see them as heroes."  Beatty: "Still, it's
         unclear how well the culturally sensitive approach will go
         down with kids in China. ... Boosting sales abroad won't be
         a layup.  Nike's best-selling shoes in China cost the U.S.
         equivalent of $59 to $78 -- still out of the reach of most
         ordinary Chinese" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/10).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Nike
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