NIKE SIZES RETAILING OPTIONS FOR FUTURE: WINNING NIKETOWN SHOP TO CREATE CONSISTENT IMAGE FOR RELATED EFFORTS

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Nike's review of its $1 million Niketown account is part of a larger assessment of how its brand is presented at retail. The outcome of that process promises to yield a refinement of the athletic footwear and apparel giant's marketing strategy.

Nike is looking for a partner to help devise an overall image for Nike at retail. That would encompass not only Niketown but the marketer's traditional avenues of distribution.

WIEDEN NOT AFFECTED

The current review doesn't impact the standing of Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., as the lead agency for the Nike brand, said Chris Zimmerman, Nike's director of North American advertising.

However, it's likely the new agency will be awarded project work pertaining to Nike product, possibly apparel.

A decision could come as early as this week. Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, are said to be in the hunt; the current Niketown agency is Leap Partnership, Chicago.

Geoffrey Frost, Nike's director of worldwide advertising, said the agency selected will work on ads, merchandising and point-of-purchase materials that will create a consistent retail image.

This search coincides with a full retail revamp. Spring will see a step in that direction, when the new Air Jordan sneakers are merchandised with a new line of apparel endorsed by Michael Jordan.

Such collections will become more commonplace as Nike promotes a head-to-toe look to consumers.

Beyond that, Nike is talking with key retailers about establishing boutiques within stores. Ever brand conscious, Nike wants retailers to buy into one unified concept.

"Presentation at retail is the No. 1 marketing priority for us in 1997," said VP-Marketing Liz Dolan at the Super Show in Atlanta last month.

The first manifestations of talks with retailers will materialize this fall, which is when the first work from the new agency will most likely appear.

RIVALS EYE RETAIL, TOO

Nike rivals also are making retail an important marketing objective this year. Reebok International, No. 2 in the footwear industry, is said to have assembled a dedicated team of employees, agency Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, and retail consultants to address this concern.

No. 3 Fila USA hopes to roll out a boutique concept of its own in 150 to 200 stores by yearend.

Most retailers are on board with their vendors' retail initiatives, or are at least game to test them, though reservations center on reluctance to pony up the co-op dollars and sacrifice shelf space given to other brands.

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