Reebok, Shaq take swipe at Nike

By Published on .

A new Shaquille O'Neal spot will take another swat at rival Nike and pump up Reebok International's $75 million "This is my Planet" campaign blitz next month.

The just-shot commercial from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, scheduled to break on Feb. 1, supports the O'Neal-endorsed Shaqnosis line of basketball shoes and apparel, part of Reebok's new flashy, graphic-heavy Mobius collection reaching stores now.

Mobius will be further pushed with a flurry of 15-second spots and another :30 with young NBA star Glenn Robinson, to hit during NBC's broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 11.

The Shaq spot will get notice because the Burnett-scripted copy has Mr. O'Neal directly addressing criticism that his off-the-court entertainment and marketing activities are more important to him than improving his game.

But another line of copy has Mr. O'Neal sassing Nike's popular "Little Penny" commercials from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which feature Shaq's Orlando Magic teammate, Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, and a puppet sidekick named Little Penny.

Reebok executives won't yet disclose the nature of Shaq's playful dis, but early drafts of dialogue had Mr. O'Neal wanting to "squash" Penny's puppet.

The spot is opportunistic and timely, given that Nike plans to unveil new "Little Penny" creative around the All-Star Game, using it as the main thrust of its February basketball marketing.

The commercial follows a heralded spot with Dallas Cowboys star and longtime Reebok endorser Emmitt Smith knocking Nike for its controversial marketing agreement with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The Nike slams position Reebok as a tough, committed No. 2, said Dan Brown, Reebok's group category director-basketball and tennis.

But Reebok also seeks to reclaim hot marketing properties--the Magic and the Cowboys--that No. 1 Nike has undermined through its marketing deals with Messrs. Hardaway and Jones.

Copyright January 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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