NIKE OKS $50 MIL INTRO AD PUSH FOR ALPHA: U.S. LAUNCH OF NEW CONCEPT IS SLATED FOR DECEMBER

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Nike finally has given the green light to an ad campaign for the U.S. launch of its Alpha project, from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

A Nike spokesman said the details of the launch haven't been finalized and wouldn't comment further. But the plan is said to call for a $30 million to $50 million campaign breaking in late December.

There are eight TV spots planned for the push, and Nike and Goodby are pursuing two noted directors. Michael Bay, who directed the summer blockbuster "Armageddon," is in talks to direct five spots while Spike Jonze, the noted music video director, is in talks to do three.

Nike has been tinkering with Alpha since unveiling it to selected retail accounts in February. It's shaping up to be not so much a sub-brand as a communications platform. It's said most of the high-end products will bear both the swoosh and the Alpha logo, an ellipsis of five dots. The commercials, however, will not feature the swoosh.

Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, is handling the international launch of Alpha. Wieden presented its first concepts to the company within the past two weeks.

QUIRKY STORIES

The Goodby Alpha spots end with the words "Nike Alpha Project" and tell quirky stories that involve a trip to "Patell's Oddity Shop."

In the spot that introduces the store, NBA superstar Gary Payton is given new moves courtesy of fleet-footed green elves, but after they melt into emerald slime, he takes some Alpha sneakers instead.

In another, what appears to be an in-line skater outracing a locomotive and causing a collision with a firetruck turns out to be a lilliputian playing on an elaborate train set.

In yet another, a musical about a young boy raised by mountain goats who subsequently develops a complex, Mama Goat travels to the store to get her human kid an esteem-building pair of shoes.

FROST EXITS NIKE

Separately Nike, Geoffrey Frost last week abruptly resigned as Nike's global advertising director. The executive currently is honored as a member of Advertising Age's Power 50 (see Special Report after Page 42).

Mr. Frost's departure won't affect the status of either Wieden or Goodby, said Nike in a statement. The company added Goodby during Mr. Frost's direction of the business, in late '96.

BACK TO AN AGENCY?

The executive told Ad Age he has his next job lined up, but he declined to say where he's headed. He hinted, however, at a move back into the agency world. Nike hired Mr. Frost in 1996 from Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, where he was exec VP-worldwide group creative director.

Mr. Frost said the decision to leave was his alone and he wasn't pressured to resign.

"It's an intense working environment and extraordinarily challenging job for anyone," said Mr. Frost.

"I've learned a lot, done a lot, and during my time there, Nike has done some of the best advertising it has ever done," he said.

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