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Today's News...3/16/05

MARCH 16, 2005 -- Nike Reaches Wal-Mart
Nike Inc. is making its first foray into the world of discount chains with the launch of a new sneaker line in Wal-Mart, according to The Oregonian.

The shoes, marketed under the Starter brand, will retail for $40 and will be available in 400 stores starting next week, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jacquie Young told the paper. The Wal-Mart spokesperson noted that the line will be the first sneakers offered by Wal-Mart for athletic use, as opposed to casual wear.

The new line is being produced by Exeter Brand Group, which was formed last year after Nike acquired Official Starter Properties. Starter Properties already sold sportswear and casual sports footwear to Wal-Mart, Payless ShoeSource and other discounters under the Starter and Shaq names.

The new shoes include cushioning technology and other improvements developed by Exeter, with the help of Nike's existing technology and research, said Vada Manager, a spokesman for Nike's Exeter unit. The shoes include the new Starter Pro men's line of running and basketball footwear and the Starter Elite women's line of running and walking shoes.

Both companies are referring to the new line of shoes as a "value innovation" that brings technologically advanced product to the discount shoppe. The two companies may decide to expand the line beyond the 400 stores, depending on how the initial rollout goes, Wal-Mart's Young said.

The news comes a day after Starter announced that the Green Bay Packer's Brett Farve has become a Starter endorser.

Keen Footwear Donates $1 Million To Charity

Keen Footwear announced that nearly $1 million originally allocated towards a 2005 Keen Footwear advertising campaign have been set aside for contributions to a variety of non-profit organizations.

The idea to make the donation was hatched in January by Keen CEO Angel Martinez, who was persuaded by news reports of the radio coverage of the tsunami devastation throughout Asia. spokesperson Julie McFadden told the Daily Dispatch.

As reported, Martinez on Monday resigned as Keen's CEO to become CEO of Decker, the owner of Teva, Simple and UGG shoes.

After gaining support from the rest of the company, Martinez scrapped creative and retracted most of Keen's media buy, in order to provide additional support to non-profit organizations.

“When we were young adults, we always said that when it was our turn to be in charge, we’d do things differently than previous generations. We will be more responsible citizens of the planet, more tolerant of other cultures and ideas, and will exercise our power as individuals,” said Martinez in a release. “Even though KEEN is still in its infancy as a footwear company, it's never too soon to step exactly in the direction of the future we want to build.”

“We were going to spend more than a million dollars in advertising and now we're redirecting those monies,” added recently-promoted KEEN president Jim Van Dine. “It was that sudden and that simple. The tsunami disaster reminded us of a promise we made to ourselves when we launched this company less than two years ago: to form a company that reflected our personal values. That includes having an active social conscience. Now more than ever is the time to keep that promise."

Keen Footwear said it encourages its industry partners, customers and retailers to visit keenfootwear.com to learn more about the causes it has chosen to support, and how to become more involved—not just with the non-profit organizations that KEEN supports, but in their own local communities and charities that inspire them.

“Awareness is a big part of this program,” said Van Dine. “By generating awareness with consumers and retailers when they buy KEEN shoes, we invite them to participate on their own. “

WSA Attendance Up 30%

The World Shoe Association WSA said its February 2005 event captured 33,286 registered participants which represents 30% more than the February 2004 event.

New buyer attendance reached a record 7,126 at the WSA Show in February -- more than twice the average of the last four events. The WSA grew buyer participation across all key categories including the core specialty footwear retailers which accounted for 41% of WSA attendance. The category with the most growth was boutiques, which grew to 14% of attendance from 7% at the prior event.

The WSA's investment in the retail buyer outreach program paid off -- a program whereby key retailers and those who do not attend were personally invited by the retail relations team to the WSA Show. This outreach was complemented by a marketing program that included 43 advertisements in consumer and trade magazines from across the globe, direct mail to over 400,000 professionals and email marketing campaigns that included the birth of the WSA's footnotes email newsletter.

"Altogether, the WSA increased market outreach tenfold for the February 2005 Show. With the help of our media partners, we were able to multiply our advertising messages while also growing the number of direct mail and email contacts," reported Catherine Upton, Chief Marketing Officer for the WSA.

AND1 Moves Into Video Games

Ubisoft, one of the world's largest videogame publishers, plans to make a video game inspired by the AND 1 Mix Tape Tour.

AND1's summer-long roadshow pits the best players each city has to offer against the AND 1 playground legends such as The Professor, Spyda, Half Man-Half Amazing, AO, Sik wit It, Main Event and others. Held in more than 50 cities around the world each year, the AND 1 streetball events are featured on the ESPN television network series: Street Ball: The AND 1 Mix Tape Tour presented by Mountain Dew. The summer tour

"We are excited to be collaborating with Ubisoft to make a game inspired by the AND 1 Mix Tape Tour," said Ron Skotarczak, vice president of marketing and entertainment at AND 1. "We are looking forward to working together to create a franchise that captures the spirit of what the AND 1 brand represents authenticity, attitude and performance."

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Copyright 2005 Sporting Goods Business

Quick links: One-click access to topics in this article.

Sporting goods industry
Specialty retailers

Wal-Mart Stores
Official Starter Properties
Nike Inc.
Keen Footwear
Shoe Association WSA

non-profit organizations
core specialty footwear retailers
retail buyer outreach program
retail relations team
buyer participation

Jacquie Young
Wal-Mart's Young
Julie McFadden
Jim Van
Catherine Upton

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