Goodby Pitches Ideas For Brand Nike

‘Just Do It’ Could Be Dumped as Part of Global Repositioning
By Joan Voight and Noreen O’Leary
SAN FRANCISCO: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is slated to present to Nike next week ideas for the main Nike brand, a move that could result in the agency winning new ad assignments or possibly all creative duties on the $250 million global brand account, sources said.
This is the latest development to threaten Nike and Wieden & Kennedy’s strained relationship, considered by many to be one of the most successful advertising partnerships in recent history.
“As we continue the evolution of our brand, we need to talk to both of our agencies. We are committed and thrilled with both of them. This is not a pitch,” said Geoffrey Frost, Nike’s director of global advertising. Asked if these talks could result in a reassignment of ad duties, he added, “We always have to figure out where to put stuff. We need to see how Goodby sees [its] own future.”
Last week, Goodby declined competing apparel company Levi Strauss & Co.’s invitation to participate in a review for the Levi’s brand, opting to focus its attention on Nike. [See story below]. Wieden’s status regarding the Levi search was unknown.
Goodby first encroached on Wieden’s Nike relationship eight months ago when it was selected to handle a handful of assignments including apparel, outdoor sports and Niketown, the company’s retail chain. Since then, Nike’s spending on those accounts has risen to about $65 million.
Goodby’s presentation comes as Nike looks to reposition itself globally as sales growth slows in the U.S. and competition intensifies overseas.
Portland, Ore.-based Wieden presented a series of possible concepts to Nike officials in late October. Nike, however, also approached Goodby to serve as part of its “think tank” and to provide ideas on the brand’s new “persona” around the world, said sources.
As part of the repositioning, sources said Nike is considering axing the famous “Just do it” tag, created by Wieden in the mid-1980s.
“They’re trying to figure out everything. Are they with the right people, the right agencies, the right categories? Everything is under consideration right now,” said one source.
Frost said only Goodby and Wieden were being approached for ideas. Executives from both shops declined comment.
Wieden initially got the Nike account in 1982, when Dan Wieden and Dave Kennedy left William Cain in Portland to start their own shop. They lost the account to the former Chiat/ Day in 1984 but regained it in 1985.
Wieden, which built its creative reputation on award-winning Nike campaigns, handles most of the client’s global ad business, including products related to mainstream sports such as football, baseball and basketball.
Wieden’s relationship with Nike became tense earlier this year. Senior managers resigned at both the client and agency, and Wieden replaced a number of staffers on Nike’s account. In August, at the behest of the client, Wieden shifted the ESPN account from Portland to its New York office to devote more attention to Nike. Nike’s U.S. advertising director Chris Zimmerman denied then that any new assignments would be moved to Goodby.
Last month, Nike placed in review its U.K. account, handled by TBWA Simons Palmer in London.
McCann-Erickson handles Nike’s media overseas.
–with Angela Dawson and Jane Irene Kelly