The first of five TV spots promoting biking footwear hit over the weekend. Most of the advertising, as well as three other spots for skateboarding products, will break on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2's June 20-28 coverage of the X Games.
37 HOURS OF X GAMES
The three networks will combine to broadcast 37 hours of X Games programming; Nike is a $1 million-plus sponsor of the ESPN-owned property, the self-styled Olympics of extreme sports.
Goodby's mountain biking creative-Nike's first advertising for that sport-is said to be a kitschy take on governmental public safety spots of the 1950s and '60s. The skateboarding ads humorously explore a sports world where all athletes are treated like skateboarders. One execution shows tennis players being harassed by the police.
The commercials are in line with Nike's brand advertising approach, featuring no product shots and a swoosh sign-off. They represent the marketer's first TV spots supporting specific sports within Nike's ACG outdoor sub-brand.
The new strategy in part reflects an effort on Nike's part to prove to the extreme-sports consumer that it is committed to the genre.
Nike introduced its first skateboarding footwear last year and supported the product with print ads created by longtime Nike agency Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. Nike broke into mountain biking in spring '97 with three footwear products, and will expand the line to five this fall.
UP TO $50 MIL IN SPENDING
Nike tapped Goodby in March to handle brand advertising with Wieden. Besides ACG, Goodby's responsibilities include Nike retail advertising and Niketown, most Nike apparel and women's sports. Goodby's Nike billings in the next year could reach $50 million.
The agency is also working on a women's sports campaign that will hit in late summer. The print and TV ads will follow the last women's sports ads to come out of Wieden. Wieden's work focuses on women's basketball and will air in July during Women's National Basketball Association broadcasts on NBC, ESPN and Lifetime.
Spending in Goodby's yearlong women's sports push will exceed $20 million. Print ads will run in a wide range of publications, including Outside and Sports Illustrated. TV and print ads will feature a new tagline tied to women's sports.
Nike's aggressive marketing against extreme and women's sports comes at a time when the athletic footwear industry is seeing a slowdown in the team sports category.
REVENUE LOWER THAN EXPECTED
Nike, the No. 1 player in the industry, has said that revenue for fiscal 1997 will be lower than expected, a disclosure that has recently driven its stock price downward. Still, Nike's '97 numbers are expected to show growth of more than 30% over last year.
Despite the slowdown, no change in ad strategy is in the works.
Nike last week launched a campaign for its highly touted Air Foamposite basketball shoe-featuring new technology and an eye-popping $180 retail price-that features static product shots against playground and subway footage. Nike executives said the focus on product doesn't reflect a change in its brand-centric ad philosophy.
"We've always had a strong product presence in our print ads, and these TV spots are just another way of executing that concept," said Chris Zimmerman, director of U.S. advertising. "We're always concerned about driving our business . . . Maybe you'll see us bring different elements into the mix at different times, but you're not going to see a big shift in strategy."