NIKETOWN READY TO TAKE A BITE OUT OF NEW YORK

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NEW YORK-Nike's learned the language. Now it wants to move in.

The athletic footwear giant last week announced its intention to turn an 85,000-square-foot space in New York's Trump Tower into yet another Niketown, the marketer's renowned retail outlets that are more like cathedrals honoring Nike athlete icons.

Currently, there are three Niketowns, in Chicago; Costa Mesa, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

But Nike has been encroaching onto New York turf for the past year, using a series of ad campaigns from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., that try to speak the language only young men who play that rough-and-tumble, New York-brand of basketball can understand.

An outdoor campaign that broke last month depicts a 2-on-2 basketball game and features trash-talking taglines like "The only way you can check me is if you can get a job as a checker at Pathmark."

Other efforts have been more cryptic.

A TV spot running during late-night shows a static shot of a graffiti-marred wall with only street sounds being audible. Lost in art/vandalism is the Nike swoosh.

Another outdoor campaign sports a swoosh and a phone number: (212) 575-YOKE. Callers can get information on Nike basketball products and special events.

YOKE? "It's street for dunk," said Keith Peters, Nike's director of corporate communications. He said New York's size justified the customized executions.

Mr. Peters said Nike had mulled buying Madison Square Garden properties, but passed. Cablevision Systems and ITT last week paid Viacom $1.1 billion for MSG.

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