Goodby Tapped For U.S. Launch Of Nike’s Alpha

At a time when it plans to trim its marketing spending, Nike has tapped Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to handle the U.S. launch later this year of Alpha, its new upscale “premium brand.”
Goodby will handle all U.S. ads for the new line, which will feature products ranging from basketball shoes to snowboarding gear, said sources. Longtime Nike agency Wieden & Kennedy will handle international advertising for Alpha, according to sources.
The assignments were made without a review between the two shops, said sources. Goodby was well-positioned to win Alpha since it already handles Nike FIT apparel and ACG products, which will both be rebranded under the Alpha name, said sources.
The Alpha line, which could be launched as early as this summer, will be branded without Nike’s well-known swoosh logo. Nike executives have said promoting Alpha is one of the company’s main priorities this year.
Executives at Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike declined to comment on the ad strategy for Alpha or how it is dividing ad duties between Goodby and Wieden. Executives at both agencies declined to comment.
With the win, San Francisco-based Goodby now handles nearly half of Nike’s estimated U.S. billings just a year after joining the client’s agency roster, said sources. Nike spent $211 million on U.S. advertising in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
But the two shops may soon face reduced ad budgets, as Nike president Tom Clarke last week outlined the company’s plans to slash marketing expenditures by about $100 million as part of an across-the-board cost-cutting effort. Chairman Phil Knight said the move should not be interpreted as resulting from dissatisfaction with the current “I can” campaign from Wieden.
Nike last week reported that third-quarter 1997 earnings dropped to $73 million from $237 million in the same period the year before due to weaker results in the U.S. and Asia.