Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Nike 'slasher' parody pulled by network

Thousands complained about TV ad for shoes

The Associated Press

        PORTLAND, Ore. — Nike chairman Phil Knight said Monday that NBC has pulled one of the athletic shoe giant's commercials — a “slasher” movie parody — from the television network's Olympic advertising lineup.

        The ad begins with distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton spotting a man in a hockey mask, much like the “Jason” character from the hugely popular Friday the 13th movies, preparing to attack her with a chain saw.

        Ms. Hamilton runs off and keeps up such a strong pace the masked attacker collapses in wheezing exhaustion. The tag line at the end of the ad says: “Why sport? You'll live longer.”

        The ad drew laughs from the crowd at Nike's annual shareholder meeting in Portland on Monday, along with a second ad featuring Olympic cyclist Lance Armstrong using mouth-to-trunk resuscitation to revive a circus elephant that quit breathing.

        The answer to the question, “Why sport?” in the Armstrong ad is “Healthy lungs.”

        An NBC spokeswoman said the network accepted the ad “subject to audience complaint.”

        “Due to adverse audience reaction, we pulled the ad early this morning,” said Maria Battaglia at NBC headquarters in New York.

        She said the network received thousands of phone calls and e-mails critical of the ad.

        But Nike vice president Charles Denson said company officials were disappointed in the response.

        “I guess we felt it was a little ironic,” Mr. Denson said, because “they (NBC) preapproved the ad before it ran in the Olympic spot.”

        Earlier, at the shareholder meeting before it was learned the ad had been pulled, Mr. Denson responded to an audience question asking whether the ad might be seen as encouraging violence toward women.

        He said that it was simply intended to be a parody and that Ms. Hamilton had fun filming the ad.


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