In a front page piece in this morning's PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, Michael Sokolove and Nita Lelyveld report teens "aren't
buying" into the notion that Hakeem Olajuwon's new sneakers,
priced at $34.99, are cool. The shoes, which sell at Payless and
other discount outlets, are not on sale at larger retailers such
as Foot Locker and Just for Feet. Even Larry Green, Marketing
Dir of Mercury International, which produces the "Dream" sneaker
for Spalding, admits the "urban teenage market will be the
toughest sell for Spalding." But James Jones, a manager at an
area Payless store, notes that the Hakeem Spalding models are
well made. Jones: "I guarantee you, if they put this same setup
in Foot Locker and charged a lot more for the shoe, they would
buy it" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/22).
NutraSweet will use Indiana coach Bobby Knight to promote
its product. The Ogilvy & Mather spots premiere this weekend
(George Lazarus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/22). In the spot, which is
themed "NutraSweet, For your sweeter side," Knight kicks back on
the bleachers, watching his team miss shots and "fumble through
practice," and then calls a timeout, telling his players to
"enjoy the sweet things in life. Picnics, puppies" (USA TODAY,
Baltimore-based Muhammad Ali Rotisserie Chicken Inc. has
signed a contract to open two restaurants in Egypt next year,
with the first opening in Cairo next June. The company also
announced it has agreed to open eight more restaurants in Egypt
over the next ten years with eyes also on South Africa, Malaysia,
Singapore and Saudi Arabia. The first Muhammad Ali Rotisserie
Chicken restaurant opened last year in Silver Spring, MD. The
company, which features a symbol with a bird and a bee, boasts
the slogan "The Colonel won't know what hit him" (Baltimore SUN,
Sprouting from Northwestern's unlikely rags-to-riches story
this season are several examples of increased interest in
Northwestern licensed merchandise. Sports Illustrated is
"scrambling" to add NU items to its Insider Authentics catalog.
Bob O'Keefe, SI Dir of Consumer Marketing Development, said the
catalog carries only 25 schools, and for '95, "Northwestern
wasn't even a consideration." But he notes, "We've already added
them for '96." Reebok, which provides the program with shoes, is
saluting their season with a spot featuring coach Gary Barnett
and members of the '48 team, the last NU team to appear in a bowl
game. Barnett will also do two radio spots for Burger King.
Other NU items hitting the shelves: pasta shaped in the NU logo;
and caps and sweaters for dogs and cats (Stuart Elliott, N.Y.
TIMES, 12/22). In the current SI, the program's turnaround is
profiled. Barnett in part credits adding black to the team's
uniforms for attracting some players. DB Hudhaifa Ismaeli: "The
number 1 reason I came here was academics. The second was the
uniforms" (SI, 12/25-1/1).
Miller Brewing and Fox will present holiday greetings from
U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe during football
broadcasts this weekend (Fox)....The CBA and Wilson have signed a
four year marketing partnership making Wilson the official
producer of CBA game and practice uniforms (CBA)....VSI
Acquisition II Corp. has completed its management-led acquisition
of Volume Services from Flagstar Companies, Inc. (Volume
Services)....In a profile of Dial Corp. in this morning's N.Y.
TIMES, Diana Henriques notes CEO/Chair John Teets' purchase of a
piece of the Diamondbacks is an example of Teets failing to
"practice what he preaches" about using company assets (N.Y.
TIMES, 12/22). ....Quaker Oats will take a $40M charge for the
current period for a restructuring of their "sagging" Snapple
brand, which lost $55M in '95. The restructuring will also halt
sales of Gatorade in N. Europe ("Moneyline," CNN, 12/21).
In this morning's N.Y. DAILY NEWS, TV critic David Bianculli
bashes Nike's "Revolution" spots featuring young stars Jason Kidd
and Kevin Garnett. Bianculli notes that the ads are based on
poet Gil Scott-Heron's work of the early seventies, and that the
poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was so "anti-
commercial." Bianculli calls the poem an "early example" of "rap
poetry." Bianculli: "Next to having a Nike ad where a Martin
Luther King Jr. look-alike says, 'I have a dream ... Just do it!'
I can't imagine an ad campaign more potentially offensive to one
of Nike's best customer blocs" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/22).