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Nike is channeling the spirit of Vince Lombardi for its biggest football marketing blitz ever.

The top athletic footwear and apparel brand this week launches a $20 million ad blitz starring Jerry Stiller of "Seinfeld" as the legendary Green Bay Packers coach.

The campaign, created by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., supports Nike's fall line of football cleats and cross-trainers, as well as the introduction of its NFL-licensed apparel.


In a kick-off commercial airing tonight on ESPN, MTV and the broadcast networks, Mr. Stiller enters a stadium through a darkened tunnel while the narrator wonders what Coach Lombardi would think of today's NFL stars. The coach barks back at the unseen voice, "Hey, Shakespeare! Shut your piehole and let's play football!"

Subsequent spots will use digital technology to insert the coach into modern game footage and will feature the character commenting on Nike endorsers like Barry Sanders, whose Air Zoom Turf cleat/cross-trainer is expected to be Nike's hot fall product.

So far, three spots have been approved; as many as seven more will follow.


The campaign will run through the end of the coming NFL season. It will compete with Reebok International's fall marketing effort for its cleats/cross trainers and NFL apparel, launching within two weeks.

At least three spots in a much broader $10 million Reebok brand push from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, will focus on football, including two commercials featuring marquee endorser Emmitt Smith. Also, a cross-promotion with Fox, Visa and Foot Locker will hit later this month to support the introduction of Reebok home-and-away reversible jerseys.

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