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Nike's Olympic ambush
July 19, 1996: 9:31 p.m. ET

Reebok may have to settle for silver
From Correspondent Rhonda Schaffler
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - While the spirit of healthy athletic competition will be going on inside Atlanta's Olympic venues, outside a tough competition is already underway.
     It's a marketing duel between two rival athletic shoe makers: Reebok and Nike. The latter's strategy is to stage a marketing ambush.
     Atlanta is inundated with athletes, tourists, and the Nike logo. It's on billboards, on a specially-constructed Nike building overlooking Olympic Park, and also prominently featured on the hearts and soles of thousands of Olympic competitors. And Nike is not even the official Olympic footwear supplier -- Reebok is.
     Sean Brenner, editor of Team Marketing Report, said that Reebok will feel the effects.
     Nike is going for the gold in a new, unsanctioned event, ambush marketing, in which it associates itself with the summer games even though it has no official Olympic role. (916K QuickTime movie)
     Reebok paid over $20 million for the right to advertise during network Olympic coverage. Nike counters with a blitz of ads outside Olympic coverage. Nike can't use the words "Olympics" but its ads showcase top athletes of the games, like track star Carl Lewis. (401K QuickTime movie)
     Nike easily outsells Reebok the world over and its summer ad blitz will make it tougher for Reebok to close the gap.
     "It may take more than what Reebok's willing to put in after they've spent millions of dollars for their official association and after they've spent all of the marketing dollars in this particular effort with Nike hammering away at them." said Frank Vuono, president of Integrated Sports International.
     Reebok said its official Olympic role is worth the price because it boosts the image around the world. But in this Olympic marketing competition, Reebok may have to settle for the silver. Back to top


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