CULTURE POP;SPOTLIGHT ON

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STEPPING UP: One of the ads marking the 50th anniversary of the National Basketball Association notes, "Before Jordan was Jordan, he was the next Dr. J. Who's next?" We don't know about Air's on-court successor, but as far as celebrity endorsers are concerned, sneaker marketer Fila may have already found the answer.

Among trendsetting 16-to-30-year-olds, Fila spokesman Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons doesn't yet have Jordan's name recognition or star power. But he is more believable and less exposed than either Jordan (Nike) or Los Angeles Laker Shaquille O'Neal (Reebok), according to People/Yankelovich Pop Monitor Profiles, which measures the overall celebrity power of 1,000 personalities on 14 different attributes. Marketers in categories other than athletic footwear are catching on to Hill's appeal. He appears in a spot for McDonald's Arch Deluxe, and has also plugged Sprite and General Motors Corp.

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