DOLAN TO WRAP UP HER NINE-YEAR RUN AT NIKE
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — Liz Dolan plans to resign from Nike as corporate vice president and director of marketing Tuesday.
Dolan — one of the industry’s most potent influences in sports marketing for women — said Wednesday she plans to consult with outside clients on sports, marketing and public service projects, including the Boys & Girls Club of America, of which she is a governor.
She will continue to serve on Nike’s advisory council, along with basketball star Michael Jordan and Gareth Chang, president and chief executive officer of Hughes International.
During her nine years at Nike, she worked in public relations and marketing. She established the company’s Participate in the Lives of America’s Youth program, a national network of volunteers for athletic programs and events. She was ranked in The Sporting News’ annual list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Sports in 1995 and 1996.
Dolan has been on vacation since accepting the 1997 Woman of the Year award from The Women’s Sports Foundation in June. Nike has no immediate plans to name a successor, a company spokesman said.
In an interview Wednesday, Dolan addressed some of the challenges in the industry.
“What a lot of people are still missing is that teenage and college women are committed to sports. It’s going to be part of their lives forever,” she said. “That goes against traditional standards for women’s physical activities.”
Having seen the interest in women’s sports accelerate rapidly, especially in the past two years, Dolan said that growth should continue. The result will be a generation of women who are “more active, more demanding and who have more money to spend.”
“It’s hard for people to design for a consumer who never existed before. There is no history,” she said. “In the boys’ market, boys of this generation are not drastically different than previous generations. Many of them once wanted to play first base for the Yankees.”
Too often, some activewear makers and retailers fall back on the fitness craze of the Eighties for inspiration, Dolan said.
“That’s where the whole business was stuck. They were marketing to 25-to-44-year-old women working out in studios,” she said. “That’s not what today’s generation of women are doing.”
Finding stores that showcase women’s products is another challenge, she said.
“The most basic thing is missing — the retail format. There need to be more stores that offer apparel, footwear and accessories in an interesting sports presentation. That’s severely lacking,” she said. “Manufacturers are doing a lot of work [to develop new products], but they won’t find a home for them except for a few spots. There needs to be a place where consumers can find it all come together.”
Dolan was here to accept an honorary award on behalf of Nike from Advertising Women of New York. The organization commended Nike for its positive portrayal of women, she said.
Dolan said she promised Phil Knight, chairman and chief executive officer, she won’t write a book about Nike, but she does plan to write magazine pieces about women’s sports.
She deflected the suggestion that ongoing criticism of the company’s overseas labor practices affected her decision.
“If anything, it made it harder to leave,” she said. “It will be pretty interesting to see how they handle this situation. I’ve never been one to shrink from battle.”