Nike's Next Evolution of Cross Training Challenges You to Just Do Whatever

BEAVERTON, Ore., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting Saturday, January 15, television viewers will see a Nike commercial unlike any they've seen before. In fact, they'll get to choose the ending ... on the Internet.

Creating the illusion that the viewer is actually in the ad, the campaign will feature three world class athletes -- world champion sprinter Marion Jones, baseball slugger Mark McGwire and snowboarding champ Rob Kingwill. In a classic cliffhanger theme, acclaimed music video director Johan Renck fades the ad to black just as the action heats up and a message directs viewers to What has traditionally been a 30-second ad experience turns into a 20-minute interactive experience with the brand.

Created by long-time Nike ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, the new campaign supports the launch of Nike's revolutionary new cross training shoe, the Air Cross Trainer II (see photo page three). Superior in design and performance, the Air Cross Trainer II is geared for today's athletes -- those who no longer train solely in a gym but invent their own world of sports.

"This campaign is like nothing we've done before,'' said Mike Wilskey, vice president of US Marketing. ``It represents an unprecedented step for Nike, as we have integrated 'traditional' television advertising with the Internet, creating a unique and entertaining experience.''

In the first of the three ads, which debuts during the NFL playoffs on January 15, Jones challenges the viewer to a foot race through the streets and alleyways of Santa Monica while people, dogs and glass doors fly by. As Jones dashes down the beach promenade, dodging street performers and tourists, the viewer (in hot pursuit) slams into a man juggling chainsaws. When the roaring saws fall back to earth, the screen goes dark with a note telling viewers, ``Continued at''

NOTE: Some networks won't allow ``continued at'' and will only show the URL address.

To resolve the cliffhanger, viewers must trade their remote for a mouse. At they will be able to choose from up to seven different endings for the unfinished TV ad using Apple's QuickTime streaming media technology. From a disarming experience with the chainsaw to a boxing match or a spirited game of one-on-one basketball against ``the world's fastest woman,'' the Web site will provide viewers/surfers with a chance to find the ending they like best.

For anyone who visits the Web site without seeing the ad on television, it will be digitized and available on the site, along with more information about Nike cross-training and the Air Cross Trainer II. New television ads featuring McGwire and snowboarder Kingwill will debut over the coming weeks, ending in cliffhangers resolved on the ``whatever'' site.

Nike is partnering with Akamai, Apple, and Exodus to implement the highly advanced video applications on the dedicated Web site. Akamai Technologies' Internet content and applications delivery service will enable to deliver the rich content and streaming media quickly and reliably to end users from its globally distributed network, while ensuring site performance during heavy traffic. Using Apple QuickTime technology, the site will have the most advanced video, sound and graphics application to support the ``choose your own ending'' approach for all site visitors. Nike selected Exodus Communications to host the site and will use their high-speed, redundant backbone and network management expertise to quickly and efficiently deliver information to customers.

The focus of this campaign is three new cross-training footwear models -- led by the Air Cross Trainer II -- which is available for purchase on and will be delivered to retail by mid-January. The Air Cross Trainer II, for men and women, is lightweight and nimble with a solid-rubber hybrid court-and-running outsole for maximum traction in or out of the gym. It combines the best of the patented Waffle outsole and herringbone designs (plus a heel crash pad) and features a translucent rubber outrigger that provides additional lateral support and 360-degree support -- for whatever sport one happens to play.

Cross-training involves multiple sports and fitness activities designed to maximize athletic output, whatever the sport of choice. Nike ought to know, given it created the cross-training concept in 1988. Currently, 20 million people cross-train in the United States, participating in activities that range from running and aerobics to skateboarding and mountain biking. More than half of these athletes are using running shoes instead of cross training footwear, which could increase the risk of injury.

``Running shoes are built to provide cushion with forward movement; they are not built to sustain lateral movement or the added pressures of a sport like Ultimate Frisbee,'' said Mario LaFortune, director of Nike's Sports Research Lab. ``The Air Cross Trainer II is designed to insure safety and support while maximizing an athlete's performance in varying conditions.''

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