SBD/March 4, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike CEO Mark Parker Discusses New Physical Activity Program For Kids

Parker acknowledged that Nike has a vested interest in people being active
Nike on Thursday announced that it would donate $50M "toward a 'Let's Move Schools' program, which seeks to increase physical activity among America's youth," and ESPN.com's Darren Rovell conducted a Q&A with Nike CEO Mark Parker on the topic as well as other issues involving the company. Below are excerpts from their conversation:

Q: Nike is donating $50M toward this program. What does $50M mean?
Parker: We're focusing on getting kids active in schools, providing access to sports and sports programs at the community level and expanding our list of partners so we can have a huge impact here. ... The kids today are part of the most inactive generation in our history by a long shot.

Q: How much do you care that kids are buying athletic shoes but wearing them with their jeans?
Parker: We want people to be active and we have a vested interest in the world being active, not just from a business standpoint, but from a social standpoint. We love to see people buy our product and actually use it for what we made it for instead of having it sit in a box on a shelf or to wear to and from school.

Q: Several people in the media have suggested that, after [Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong] and a host of others, that Nike should perhaps get out of the business of athlete endorsements or do a better job at evaluating them beyond the playing field. Where do you stand on this?
Parker: The relationship with the athlete is critical to who we are. Athletes are human beings and they make mistakes. We do try to be careful and we don't just look at a resume from a competition standpoint when considering an athlete (ESPN.com, 3/1).

A NATURAL FIT: 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is partnering with Nike on the “Let’s Move Schools” program, and he said, “As a kid I was always active.” The Nike program is “something I relate to very well." Kaepernick: "Also being a Nike athlete, I thought it was something that fit me and fit what I was trying to do” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 3/2).

GNARLY, NIKE: In Portland, Allan Brettman wrote skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, who has been endorsed by Nike for nine years and had six signature shoes designed for him, "well understands the ambivalence some in his sport hold toward the world's largest footwear and apparel company." Rodriguez on Thursday said, "For the most part I've been able to maintain a good respect level. There's for sure been some level of backlash ... I've been able to maintain a lot of respect and love from the fans." He added of Nike's effort to enter the skateboarding world, "It's all about the approach. This time around they did it really small, they did it really grass roots. They didn't come in saying, 'We're Nike! We're helping you guys out!' I don't think the community embraced it that way. Now Nike is one of the most-desired companies in skateboarding. Kids want to skate in Nikes" (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/2).
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