CBS' "60 Minutes" profiled Nike and adidas' involvement
with high school basketball players in "There's No Business
Like Shoe Business." CBS' Lesley Stahl: "Nobody, not the
Bulls, the Lakers or the Knicks, is more interested in
finding the next Michael Jordan than Nike. ... So Nike, and
its competitors like adidas, are searching the country.
Searching for the hot NBA rookies, putting their shoes on
the best college seniors. But what amazed us, is that
they're also going after basketball babies." adidas' Sonny
Vaccaro said that shoe companies start recruiting players
when they're "eight, nine, ten, eleven-year-olds." Vaccaro,
on what adidas gets out of finding a promising ten-year-old
basketball player: "What you do, is you bring this person
along, and hopefully he stays in the family." Stahl: "And
then all the kids in the country will wear adidas?"
Vaccaro: "That would be very nice." Stahl: "Nike and adidas
have turned the summertime into a huge basketball bazaar,
spending millions of dollars to corral every kid with a
decent jump shot, betting that one or two of them will
develop into superstars -- and human billboards." High
school basketball talent scout Bob Gibbons, on the shoe wars
over high school students and the high school summer camps:
"It's way out of control, and I don't know how you get it
back in control" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 10/26).
NIKE'S TAKE: Stahl asked Nike Dir of Global Basketball
Ralph Greene on its mission in supporting youngsters: "It's
important for us to provide wonderful opportunities for kids
who play great basketball. ... It's a very simple formula
for us. And it really does start with performing, and being
passionate about the game first, and the athletes first."
Stahl, in response to Reed: "Selling shoes first." Reed:
"No, no, no, no, no. It's the game first, then the passion
for the game and understanding what athletes want."
Gibbons, asked about Reed's "passionate about the game"
statement: "I don't see them giving their product away to
schools that do not have good players ... they love the
schools that have the top players the best" (CBS, 10/26).
In FL, entrepreneur Dennis Valdez launched his Blue
Marlin Beer six weeks ago and "immediately" sold out 1,500
cases, and now "can't keep Blue Marlin Beer in stock." Levy
Restaurants and Pro Player Stadium began offering Blue
Marlin Beer during the playoffs and served it at the club
level during the World Series (SUN-SENTINEL, 10/25).
...Dennis Rodman, who wears Converse, said that he "doubts"
he will wear his new Nike shooting shirt (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES,
10/25)....About 300 women are expected at a soldout
"Football 101 for Ladies" class at Foxboro Stadium on
Wednesday (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/26). "Extra" profiled the NFL's
"Football 101 for Ladies" on Friday ("Extra," 10/24).
A coalition of women's groups, which includes NOW and
the Ms. Foundation for Women, "has attacked Nike as
hypocritical" for running new TV commercials that feature
female athletes, while alleging the company pays "its
largely female overseas work force poorly," according to
Steven Greenhouse of the N.Y. TIMES. In a letter to Nike
CEO Phil Knight, the coalition wrote, "While the women who
wear Nike shoes in the United States are encouraged to
perform their best, the Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese
women making the shoes often suffer from inadequate wages,
corporal punishment, forced overtime and/or sexual
harassment." Nike Labor Issues spokesperson Vada Manager
said the women's groups "misunderstood Nike's role." In
Asia, its factories "pay considerably more than do most
factories in those countries." The commercials "show women
saying they will be stronger, healthier and more independent
if they are allowed to play sports" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).
USA TODAY's Dottie Enrico reports that the 15 women's
organizations will hold a press conference Tuesday "urging"
Knight to "increase wages and hire an independent local
investigator" at Nike overseas factories (USA TODAY, 10/27).
The NBA is "now negotiating new four-year TV contracts"
which could net the league "up to" 50% more than its current
rights deals with NBC and Turner Sports, according to Jeff
Jensen of AD AGE. NBA Exec VP/CMO Rick Welts: "The outcome
of our television negotiations will determine how we will
market ourselves over the next four years." Jensen adds
that "many" of the league's current sponsorship deals,
including McDonald's, Quaker Oats and Gatorade, "expire at
the end of this season." But for NBA sponsors, a 50%
increase in TV rights fees "will affect the cost of doing
business with the NBA." Gatorade VP/Worldwide Sports
Marketing Bill Schmidt: "We're always concerned about
increases in sports TV rights fees because we all know who
will pay for that." While NBC charged "an estimated"
$80,000 for 30-second spots last season, up about 15% from
'95, Turner will charge $19,000-20,000 per 30-second spot
this season. But Jensen adds that "marketers will still buy
the NBA because it delivers the demographics they need:
teen-age and young adult males." Gatorade's Schmidt: "The
NBA remains very hot with our consumers." The NBA's Welts
added that the NBA will again "bundle" promo rights with TV
time, but he added that the TV networks are "taking
advertiser concerns into consideration," and that "it's
possible that there will be fewer units available in the new
packages, as they may include fewer games" (AD AGE, 10/27).