JORDAN'S MARKETABILITY DOMINATES THE WEEKEND
Michael Jordan's decision to quit baseball is "driving
advertisers to juggle their plans." Nike announced it is
shelving its Jordan baseball spott that debuted only a week ago.
The Spike Lee-produced ads included cameos by Stan Musial, Willie
Mays and Bill Buckner. Nike spokesperson Tom Feuer said the
baseball ad is getting "plenty of exposure anyway in news
accounts": "It hasn't been a waste of money." Gatorade
"accelerated the debut" of its new ad featuring Jordan on a
"mythical but suddenly apt search for the meaning of life." The
Gatorade ad, filmed just three weeks ago, is scheduled to start
airing on NBC's Sunday NBA broadcasts. Kathryn Newton,
spokesperson for General Mills/Wheaties, said Jordan's switch
back to basketball would not affect their plans (AP/ N.Y. POST,
3/11). From the new Gatorade ad: Jordan is running through a
desert and into the mountains to a temple where he meets a guru
who recognizes that he has come to discover the meaning of life.
Guru: "Life is a sport, drink it up." Jordan: "Yeah, that's what
I figured" (Baltimore SUN, 3/11). McDonald's is teaming up with
the NBA and Looney Tunes characters in a major April promotion.
One TV ad will show Bugs Bunny playing basketball revealing at
the end that he's really Michael Jordan in disguise. The ads
also include Charles Barkley and Larry Bird (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
NIKE'S STOCK JUMPS: Nike stock closed at $76.50, up $1.50
for the day and continuing a "steady climb that has seen it rise"
about 10% over the last month. It was one of the most heavily
traded stocks on Friday, about 50% more than normal. Kemper
Securities analyst Kevin Dukesherer: "A comeback by [Jordan]
certainly raises the stock out a little bit, and maybe gives a
little bit of a boost to their Air Jordan line" (Jon Morgan,
Baltimore SUN, 3/11).
DOES HE SELL? In Chicago, Tim Jones notes that in the four
years since Gatorade signed Jordan, the company has expanded its
coverage from about a dozen countries to 28. Gatorade
VP/Worldwide Marketing Bill Schmidt: "A great percentage of this
is due to Michael. In a lot of these countries they don't know
what a sports beverage is and they haven't heard of Gatorade, but
they've heard of Michael." Nike VP/Communications Keith Peters:
"The one thing we have learned in the last year and a half is
that Jordan certainly transcends basketball and baseball and
maybe anything we know as sport" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/12). ABC's
Armen Keteyian reported Friday that an NBA official had reported
that advertisers "are already calling in looking to cash in on
[Jordan's] return" (ABC, 3/10). NEWSDAY's Mike Lupica said
Jordan's return would be "a very smart business decision because
Michael Jordan had to take a look at what happened to Bo Jackson
when Nike decided that they had gone as far as they could with a
guy who could become a marginal baseball player" ("Sports
Reporters," ESPN, 3/12).