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Nike Tries New Moves

LOS ANGELES — Poetry in motion might seem like a stretch for activewear, but that’s the pitch in Nike’s new ad campaign.<br><br>Soccer star Mia Hamm and Atlanta Falcons phenom Michael Vick are among the Nike-sponsored athletes shown...

LOS ANGELES — Poetry in motion might seem like a stretch for activewear, but that’s the pitch in Nike’s new ad campaign.

This story first appeared in the August 7, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Soccer star Mia Hamm and Atlanta Falcons phenom Michael Vick are among the Nike-sponsored athletes shown suspended in motion true to their respective sports in the ads. The aim is to tune in consumers to the brand’s technology-oriented fall apparel hitting 650 doors now, including Niketown and Nordstrom.

“This is our largest apparel campaign,” a Nike spokeswoman said. “We’ve had a great footwear business and we continue to believe and invest in the apparel business.”

Nike declined to reveal what it is spending on the outdoor campaign that broke Tuesday, but the brand isn’t known to skimp. According to consulting firm CMR, Nike was the biggest fashion advertiser in the first half of 2002, spending $112.6 million.

Apparel has emerged as the muscle behind Nike’s sales in the year ended May 31. During the fourth quarter, Nike’s U.S. athletic footwear revenues declined 3 percent to $797 million, while apparel revenues grew 16 percent to $345.7 million. For the year, footwear revenues decreased 4 percent to $3 billion and apparel revenues rose 8 percent to $1.4 billion.

The new Wieden & Kennedy campaign coincides with a 13-minute dance routine that will hit West Hollywood Saturday and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., on Aug. 16 The show borrows from boxing, yoga, football and other athletic activities, and will be performed several times between 8 p.m and 11 p.m. It was created by choreographer Jamie King, who has worked with Madonna, Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera.

Beginning this week, Nike also will plug this musically inspired workout at a dozen gyms, including Crunch and The Sports Club LA. Many activewear makers are working the music angle to woo customers. Shakira and Eve have pitched for Reebok, and Fila staged dance contests this spring. Staying front and center will lend street credibility to the product, said David Carter, principal at the Sports Business Group, a consulting firm here.

“They’re the influencers and it’s great for Nike to have them act as de facto sales reps,” he said. “Nike is a remarkable icon, but it’s not known first and foremost as an apparel brand.”

The ad push will hit eight billboards and 100-plus buses in Los Angeles and 13 billboards and 60-plus urban panels in New York, as well as the September issues of Details, GQ, Interview, Vanity Fair, Jane, Vogue, Latina, Vibe and other magazines.