ADIDAS RAISES PROFILE IN U.S. WITH A THREE-SPORT TV PUSH: AIKMAN, BRYANT, YANKEE FANS STAR IN NEW CAMPAIGNS

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Adidas America this fall will escalate efforts to boost the visibility of its brand, beginning with a $5 million TV campaign centered on National Football League star Troy Aikman.

The nation's fourth-ranked athletic footwear company also will launch a TV campaign in the New York market by September supporting its controversial 10-year, $91 million sponsorship of the Yankees. The spots will focus on Yankee fans, not players, and feature the tagline "Only in New York."

Later this fall, Adidas will launch a national push featuring National Basketball Association wunderkind Kobe Bryant. That effort will benefit from a new marketing alliance the company has inked with the NBA. The national campaigns mark a raising of the brand's visibility as it seeks to become a bigger player in the U.S.

GRASSROOTS BRAND

"Adidas has been very much a grassroots brand as it has rebuilt itself after disappearing in the mid-'70s," said Courtney Beuchert, managing director at Adidas agency Leagas Delaney, San Francisco. "It's remaining true to that grassroots soul, but it's starting to dial itself back into the national profile."

Adidas' forthcoming spot with Mr. Aikman is the second TV effort to feature the Dallas Cowboys quarterback since his defection from Nike. The monthlong media program includes network buys on ESPN and MTV, and spot purchases in pre-season NFL game broadcasts.

The commercial flogs the Aikman-endorsed Equipment Roll Out, the latest in Adidas' line of Feet You Wear products, designed to enhance natural movement and cushioning.

This year's spot comically illustrates product attributes, a departure from last year's gritty, serious musings on the sport. Mr. Aikman is seen squaring off against a tank, firing a football into the barrel of its gun before it fires on him.

Adidas doesn't have a marketing relationship with the NFL, so it can't feature Mr. Aikman in his Cowboys uniform. But rivals Nike and Reebok International will be able to feature NFL players in uniform and will leverage those deals in their fall football marketing.

An upcoming Nike campaign from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., will feature Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, whose jerseys Nike will begin marketing exclusively this fall. Reebok has spots starring Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys created by Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

NEW DEAL WITH NBA

Adidas recently inked a marketing relationship with the NBA, which will allow it to suit up Mr. Bryant in his Los Angeles Lakers uniform. The TV component of its $5 million-plus campaign will air in NBA programming and on ESPN and MTV.

It will go toe-to-toe with a $10 million to $15 million campaign from Fila USA featuring NBA star Grant Hill. Reebok has separate campaigns on tap from Heater Advertising, Boston, featuring Allen Iverson and Shawn Kemp.

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