SBD/July 1, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike Re-signs Michael Vick To Endorsement Deal After Dropping Him Four Years Ago

Nike has signed Michael Vick to a multiyear endorsement contract. The deal continues the marketing reformation of the Eagles quarterback, once one of the highest-paid endorsers in the NFL. Earlier this year, Vick signed with Bombo Sports & Entertainment to do a documentary film chronicling his life. More recently, he finished second in fan-balloting for selection of the cover athlete for the next “Madden NFL” video game behind Browns RB Peyton Hillis. Vick served 21 months in federal prison on felony charges related to his involvement in dog fighting. He returned to the NFL with the Eagles in '09 and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award after last season. The deal returns Vick to Nike, which had him as an endorser from when he entered the league in '01 until the deal was later terminated. That relationship yielded both signature product and a memorable "Michael Vick Experience" TV ad from Wieden & Kennedy. "Nike represents sports performance, so the hookup there is a natural fit," said Andrew Stroth, a Chicago-based attorney who represents Vick for marketing deals.  Joel Segal remains Vick's agent for on-field matters. The Eagles placed the franchise tag on Vick in February. Nike returns as the NFL's lead licensee in '12 with rights that begin April 1, like every NFL deal. Adding Vick gives Nike another big-name QB, adding to a stable that includes the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Saints' Drew Brees, winning QBs in the last two Super Bowls. However, Nike's timing in releasing the news of the Vick signing on a Friday of July 4 weekend can only be considered odd. Typically, companies release information in that kind of time frame in an effort to avoid media scrutiny, and Vick remains a controversial figure as result of his felony conviction.

NIKE'S RESPONSE: The story was first reported on Friday by CNBC's Darren Rovell.  Nike U.S. Media Relations Dir Derek Kent told CNBC, "We do not condone those actions, but we support the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field" (CNBC, 7/1).

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