Kellogg USA will become title sponsor of Soccer In The
Streets, a GA-based, non-profit dedicated to bringing soccer
to the inner city. The Kellogg's Soccer In The Street
program will be conducted in 13 cities (Kellogg's).
MLS: MLS's new ad campaign from Dallas-based Dieste &
Partners, "Lessons in Passion," was examined by Jerry
Langdon in USA TODAY. He called the spots "pretty good.
Particularly impressive is the 'Dancing' promo, set to Mambo
music, with players making great faking moves and dribbling
past defenders." There will be eight spots, half of which
have been completed. The other half will be done by April
(USA TODAY, 3/23)....BRANDWEEK's Terry Lefton reports that
MLS is holding All-Star balloting at the 2,200 Kmart stores
nationwide in a promo that also gets the league's licensed
apparel "into mass retail for the first time." All-Star
voting runs May 3-June 28 with ballots available in Kmart's
Sports Center licensed apparel areas. Lefton adds that
Kmart "gets the exclusive on MLS licensed apparel at mass
merch for the rest of the year, while MLS gains access to
one of the most desirable retail venues" (BRANDWEEK, 3/23).
BRANDWEEK NOTES: Terry Lefton reports that Service
Merchandise will be the presenting sponsor for MLB's Home
Run Derby during the All-Star Break, airing July 6 on ESPN.
Service Merchandise's "foray into sports" is being run by
new marketing exec Chuck Kremers, who led True Value into
MLB, NASCAR and NFL sponsorships....Dorothy Hamill, Nancy
Kerrigan and Nicole Bobek will appear in a print campaign
for Aetna/U.S. Healthcare breaking this spring. It will
promote heart health and warn about the high incidence of
heart problems among women....While Bell Atlantic recently
inked a sponsorship pact with the Atlantic 10 Conference,
the company could not come to terms on a proposal to rename
it the Bell Atlantic 10. The deal "would have cost two to
three times the mid-six-figure deal" that was consummated,
and the A-10 would have "become the first conference to sell
its name"....Hershey has signed a two-year sponsorship deal
with Strike Ten that gets it sponsorship of the National
Family Bowling Tournament, access to the association's 6,000
bowling centers and promotional rights (BRANDWEEK, 3/23).
NOTES: The WNBA's inaugural season "won gold" in the
sports and entertainment category at the American Marketing
Association's Edison Awards (AD AGE, 3/23 issue)....UT men's
basketball coach Rick Majerus signed an exclusive rep
agreement with IL-based Intersport Management for contract
negotiations, endorsements and appearances (Intersport).
...In N.Y., Richard Wilner notes a source who said that
Cablevision, which bought electronics chain Nobody Beats the
Wiz, will renovate the stores and decorate the interiors
with "classic" MSG sports photos (N.Y. POST, 3/24).
Nike "will slash its global marketing budget" by $100M
for the FY starting June 1, "and over the next six months
will re-evaluate its strategies," according to Jeff Jensen
of AD AGE. Nike's '97 marketing budget was an estimated
$891M. Nike Chair Phil Knight "holds marketing partly to
blame for the company's recent woes" and will put its new "I
can" campaign from Wieden & Kennedy up for "reassessment."
Knight: "Our problem has not been too much marketing, but
too much ineffective marketing" (AD AGE, 3/23 issue).
FOOT SOLDIERS: In N.Y., Jennifer Steinhauer examines
whether a slowdown of Nike sales will impact Woolworth's
Foot Locker stores. Analysts estimate that Woolworth
controls about 16% of the U.S. athletic footwear market, and
about 40% of the market for athletic shoes over $40. At
Foot Locker stores, investors estimate that footwear makes
up roughly 75% of the merchandise, with Nike representing
30-50% of that category (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24).
Nike's earnings reductions and recent layoffs are
examined in this week's news magazines. In TIME, Bill
Saporito writes under the header, "Can Nike Get Unstuck?"
Saporito: "Nike is a multibillion-dollar monster finding its
size awkward." Nike Chair Phil Knight's "challenge is to
re-create the essence of the outfit he first operated out of
the trunk of his car." Nike "is reassessing everything,
from the way it sells to retailers to the number of times
the famous swoosh appears on products and in advertising.
It will try to act smaller by developing categories such as
golf, soccer, and women's as separate business units."
Knight: "Basically, our culture, and our style, is to be a
rebel, and we sort of enjoy doing that. Now that we've
reached a certain size, there's a fine line between being a
rebel and being a bully, and yeah, we have to walk that
line." Saporito writes that despite "the pounding" it has
taken, "Nike is still the force in athletics" (TIME, 3/30).
REORGANIZATION: Nike will undergo "a holistic
reorganization as it struggles with the very size of the
company and what it stands for." Knight: "What we are today
might by O.K. for a $3 billion company. It's not O.K. at
9." In reviewing its corporate image, Nike execs "reached
an interesting conclusion: too many swooshes." Nike VP Mark
Parker: "There has been a little bit of an internal backlash
about just the number of swooshes that are out there."
Saporito adds that Nike will "try to be more accessible" to
consumers by continuing to develop subbrands, such as a golf
division built around Tiger Woods and another line, Nike
Classic Golf, that will target the country-club set.
Saporito concludes that Knight "has written this year off,"
but by '99 he "expects to have new product, a new management
structure and better press" (TIME, 3/30 issue).
LOWERED COOL QUOTIENT? NEWSWEEK's Jolie Solomon writes
that more than its negative press, "Nike's bigger problem is
a 1990s marketing conundrum: can you be big and cool?" When
Teenage Research Unlimited did its latest survey, 40% of
kids named Nike as one of the "coolest" brands, down from
52% six months ago. But Solomon adds that Nike's "ace in
the hole is Knight himself," who she describes as
"charismatic and down to earth" (NEWSWEEK, 3/30 issue). In
a sidebar, NEWSWEEK's Joshua Hammer reviews Michael Moore's
new documentary, "The Big One." Knight "is the only CEO
with the guts to go on camera, but he pays the price: he
sheepishly admits he's never visited his company's Third
World factories" (NEWSWEEK, 3/30 issue).
ATHLETE'S FOOT? In U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, William
Holstein reports that Knight "remains deeply involved with
Nike's athletes, which is one reason it will be hard for the
company to cut back on its spending for sports events and
sponsorships." But recently departed execs say that
Knight's "preoccupation with his athletes, at the expense of
shareholders and employees, is a serious problem." Former
Nike CFO Robert Falcone said he urged Knight "to cut back on
promotion and marketing costs to help offset declining
sales. Instead, Knight decided to shuffle management to
appease investors." Falcone: "All they had to do was not
sign one soccer contract, and they could have saved hundreds
of jobs" (U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, 3/30 issue).