NIKE EYES NEW 'I CAN' TAG FOR '98 BRAND ADS

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Nike is strongly considering making "I can" the theme of a branding campaign slated to be launched in January via longtime agency Wieden & Kennedy.

Those familiar with the campaign confirmed the slogan is being considered for the coming ads. While Nike's trademark "Just do it" line won't appear in the ads, sources said the slogan is not being retired.

"Just do it" has been used sparingly this year after being reintroduced with much fanfare in February 1995.

THEME OF INCLUSIVENESS

Nike has given Portland, Ore.-based Wieden the green light to begin production on the campaign, which aims to reposition the brand around a theme of inclusiveness and Nike's leadership status (AA, Oct. 20).

Neither Nike's global advertising director, Geoffrey Frost, nor its U.S. ad director, Chris Zimmerman, would comment on the athletic footwear marketer's 1998 ad plans. Mr. Frost would only say that a stand-alone branding campaign is being considered.

Nonetheless, executives at Wieden and Nike's other main brand agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, said last week Wieden had been given the assignment.

Earlier this month, Wieden presented an array of finished work and concepts for basketball, soccer and other categories, and also offered at least one concept for an overarching brand campaign.

Goodby won't pitch branding concepts at a meeting planned for this week, when it will present its category work.

Goodby had earlier offered its thoughts on branding to Nike but no related campaign concepts.

"Wieden is our lead agency," Mr. Zimmerman said last week.

He added that the terms brand and category advertising are "artificial distinctions" at Nike, which believes all of its advertising should add up to a brand message.

Added Mr. Frost, referring to reports that Nike was pitting Wieden against Goodby, "Nike doesn't believe in a so-called jump-ball approach to managing multi-agency relationships. That's destructive."

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