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OAKLEY'S NEW SNEAKERS: REVOLUTIONARY OR REVENGEFUL?
Published May 11, 1998
On Tuesday, Oakley will introduce a new, domestically- produced sneaker that "seems destined to be viewed either as masterstroke or fiasco," according to Starr & Kaufman of NEWSWEEK. While Oakley's new sneaker "is about trying to seize a marketing opportunity," it's also about "a clash of giant egos, a corporate grudge match pitting" Oakley against Nike and Oakley Founder & Chair Jim Jannard against his former friend, Nike Founder & Chair Phil Knight. Jannard noted that his company's decision to enter the shoe market came after Nike's decision to manufacturer its own line of eyewear: "I marvel that they would risk our relationship to go after part of a $200 million business against the possibility of us going after a share of a $5 billion business. It showed a great amount of disrespect. They obviously didn't take us seriously" (NEWSWEEK, 5/18 issue). SHOES YOU CAN USE? Jannard says Oakley has designed a "technically better shoe, more consistent in sizing with improved support and protection." But Starr & Kaufman write that "few in the industry are as impressed with [Oakley] as it is with itself," and add that "many think Oakley's shoe is a misguided, perhaps even suicidal, potion driven by little beyond Jannard's ego." Marketing the shoe "will be tricky," since many of Oakley's "big-name" eyewear endorsers already have footwear deals. In addition, Oakley plans no major ad campaigns around the new product and so far "has mustered a rather limited distribution network" of only about 200 stores nationwide (NEWSWEEK, 5/18 issue).