Nike checks alternatives

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In recent years, the home of the swoosh has stepped up a number of alternative media experiments-interactive commercials, music videos and documentary films-in addition to custom publishing.

"The need is pretty clear-we have to reach consumers at various access points," said Rebecca VanDyck, global account director on Nike at its agency, independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. Nike wants to "play with a few more experiences where there can be a dialogue going back and forth" as opposed to traditional advertising where communication is a one-way street, she said.

Last summer, Nike conducted an Internet ad experiment in Europe from Wieden, beginning with a public relations push about a faked loss of a missing Nike prototype soccer ball. The campaign later moved into TV with spots urging viewers who sighted the ball to call a toll free number or go to a Web site.

Another 2000 effort consisted of the whatever.nike.com work in which three spots featured different abstract stories, each shown from a camera angle intended to be the viewpoint of the viewer. Those going to the Web then conclude the commercial with scenes at a variety of places, such as a boxing ring or playing basketball.

Then earlier this year Nike experimented with music videos featuring the artist Mos Def; the video was cut with footage of the "Much Respect" commercial. Music inspired Nike's "freestyle" spot, running on the NBA finals, which is a choreograph of the sounds of basketballs on the gym floor made by NBA and street basketball players.

Later this month, a Nike-created documentary will air on Viacom's CBS and on OLN titled "Road to Paris," a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Postal Service team's preparation for the Tour de France. As the program airs, viewers will be given Web sites they can find to get more in-depth information about aspects of the race.

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