Nike "will once again call upon spokespuppet Li'l Penny
to talk up its basketball products this fall and winter,"
according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. In addition to Nike's TV
ad campaign from OR-based Wieden & Kennedy, Crown Publishers
has a Li'l Penny book and Playmates Toys has two Li'l Penny
dolls hitting the market. In one TV spot to debut in
November, L'il Penny is reading his book, "Knee High &
Livin' Large," which will be released that month. Around
the "same time," Playmates will issue two dolls, one with a
"voice supplied by Chris Rock." Crown and Playmates "will
support" with their "own publicity, and local retailer and
radio promotions" (ADVERTISING AGE, 9/15).
THE MARKET: The "basketball segment has sagged lately,"
and "industry experts" report that '97 back-to-school sales
of basketball shoes were down 10%, "with consumers scoffing
at prices that last year were tolerated." As for other
brands, Reebok's top endorser, Allen Iverson, was recently
arrested and "his marketability is being questioned;" No. 3
adidas America has a "hot brand," but "an unproven
spokesperson" in Laker Kobe Bryant; No. 4 Fila USA has Grant
Hill, "an icon" who can "move shoes," but Jensen adds that
Fila "must improve on last year's line" (AD AGE, 9/15).
STAR FLIGHT: Kate Starbird of the ABL Reign said she
has signed a shoe deal with Nike in a deal "just finalized
about a month ago" (ESPN SportsZone, 9/15)....Raptor rookie
Tracy McGrady, and his deal with adidas, is profiled by
Craig Daniels of the TORONTO SUN. Robert Erb, adidas
marketing exec: "We're not as big (as Nike). We don't have
as much money to throw around. If we're to catch Nike, how
do we do that? With intelligent risk" (TORONTO SUN, 9/16).
The next "big contract" on Tiger Woods' horizon "could
be with an electronic game company," according to the
"Bunker to Bunker" column in GOLFWORLD. Software industry
sources tell GOLFWORLD "bidding" for Woods' endorsement "has
escalated to record proportions for the industry."
MSNBC.com reported that Microsoft, Sony and Sega say that
they are "no longer in the running" for Woods, and CA-based
EA Sports "seems to be leading." A GOLFWORLD industry
source values the deal at $15M (GOLFWORLD, 9/12).
ENDORSEMENT SKINNY: GOLFWEEK's "Forecaddie" reports on
the PGA's endorsement picture, noting that Phil Mickelson's
"service isn't as hot as advertised," as he doesn't wear a
hat or visor, "which limits any club company's TV time. ...
[don't] be surprised if he re-signs with Yonex." In other
news, Callaway "is said to be wooing" Fred Couples, "whom
insiders say isn't happy about the way things are going at
Lynx." "Forecaddie" concludes with talk that the "next to
join Team Nike" might be Arnold Palmer (GOLFWEEK, 9/13).
Big League Bottling is selling $50 bottles of carbernet
sauvignon with MLB logos on the bottle (U.S. NEWS & WORLD
REPORT, 9/22 issue)....The Brett Hull "Hat Trick" candy bar
was unveiled at the Kiel Club in St. Louis on August 28.
The bar comes in a wrapper with the Blues' colors (THE
HOCKEY NEWS, 9/19 issue)....ESPN -- The Store opens today at
the CA-based Glendale Galleria. The prototype store is a
collaboration of ESPN and The Disney Store (ESPN).
Michael Moore's latest documentary, "The Big One,"
which examines the corporate policies of Nike and features
CEO Phil Knight, will be distributed by Miramax Films early
next year, according to William Holstein of U.S. NEWS &
WORLD REPORT. Holstein writes that a "starring role in a
movie by one of the nation's leading corporate critics is
the last thing that Knight needs right now" and "the anti-
Nike movement appears to be broadening." Holstein: "There's
no hard proof that any of the controversies has actually
hurt Nike sales. But all is not well in the marketplace.
... Nike headquarters has turned more than a little
embattled." A new Penny Hardaway shoe "has provoked
complaints that Nike is exploiting inner-city youths," and a
"Give Back Your Sneakers" protest is scheduled for September
27 at NikeTown in New York. In addition, Nike sales were
"flat" this summer, and the company "is not performing as
well as it was last year" (U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, 9/22).
YOUNG'S REPORT CRITICIZED: In the NEW REPUBLIC, Stephen
Glass examined the report by GoodWorks' Andrew Young in a
review of the company's international code of conduct.
Glass wrote that Nike was GoodWorks's "first big client, its
first chance to send corporate America evidence" that it did
"good work," but "if the Nike report was 'classic Andy
Young,' it was also a classic sham, marred not just by
shoddy methodology but by frequent misrepresentations."
Glass added the report "lists consultants who were never
consulted and includes photos of" union reps who "were not
union officials." Young "deliberately avoided the most
obvious and controversial question -- whether Nike paid its
employees fair wages -- and, when gathering testimony"
relied exclusively on Nike translators. Regarding
contentions that GoodWorks listed consultants who were never
spoken to, GoodWorks spokesperson Logan Ide "insists" the
group was not trying to create a false impression. Ide: "It
surprises me that people will say that. The heading only
says we spoke with them. Sometimes it just may have been
very, very briefly" (NEW REPUBLIC, 9/8).
PHIL CHIMES IN: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick noted Nike's PR
challenges and the launch of the new Jordan subsidiary line:
"Human-rights activists, here and abroad, have long implored
Nike and [Michael] Jordan to show even a modicum of social
responsibility. But Jordan just shrugs" (N.Y. POST, 9/14).