Nike kicked off The Super Show in grand fashion at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas on Sunday night, wooing some 600 retailers with food buffets, an open bar, and a grand multimedia presentation of upcoming Swoosh product -- with top Swoosh executives to describe the product. Even Nike CEO and founder Philip H. Knight made an appearance.
Not only did Nike use the pre-event showcase to emphatically illustrate its dedication to the sporting goods industry overall, but the Beaverton, Ore.-based company also repeatedly stressed its allegiance to The Super Show in the company's first year back after a much-noticeable absence.
"I'm excited to be back here involved with The Super Show," said Charlie Denson , co-president of the Nike brand, in introductory comments. "I'm excited to be part of this brand. Most importantly, I'm excited to be part of this industry."
What followed was some 90 minutes of product presentations by managers of various lines -- with a large emphasis on sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer -- combined with sultry models showing off the new Fall '02 product, high-energy and highly choreographed dance numbers, video presentations with "real people" and athletes talking about sport in typical emoting Nike style, and a dash of jazzy saxophone and some outstanding gymnastics. This all came in the Hard Rock Café Theater after 60 minutes of free food and drink with all the big-hitting retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods (12 in all in attendance, SNEWS was told), plus the likes of Champ's, Colt's, The Sports Authority, and Galyan's. A few smaller retailers attended but several told SNEWS they didn't feel the extravaganza spoke to them -- despite the food and frolic.
During the show, Nike sealed itself behind guarded and closed doors in a private meeting room, with other exhibitors left asking where Nike was since nary a Swoosh was in sight.
But for those who gained admittance to the highly guarded evening, it was a show to behold, albeit perhaps a bit long; one attendee told SNEWS today he spent the evening trying to keep the sleepy retailer's head next to him from resting on his shoulder, and SNEWS noticed a lot of watch-peeping after about an hour.
The event highlighted not only basketball product -- flashy with chrome-plated features on shoes and apparel called "Battlegrounds" meant to be THE stuff to wear on all the urban playgrounds -- but also soccer -- with the showcase of a new shoe called the Air Mercurial Vapor that is said to be lighter than the jersey's worn by players.
"We're going to recommit ourselves to putting some fun -- and some profit -- back into this business," Denson said.
Said Gary DeStefano, another co-president of the Nike brand, "That swoosh is a promise -- our promise to inspire, to innovate, and that we care."
In addition, Nike oh-so-briefly introduced two new or revamped fabrics:
Nike Sphere, which was used by athletes at the Sydney Olympics, but has been revamped into Nike Sphere Thermal for the upcoming Salt Lake City Olympics. The fabric -- said to create a personal atmosphere around the wearer -- will be available at retail in Fall '02 product in ACG, Tennis, Running, and Training.
Cool Motion, also already used by athletes at some elite events. It has two layers, but is lighter weight than one, does not cling and increases airflow for better cooling. This will be available at retail in Fall '02 product in Tennis and Training lines.
Knight closed the evening with a casual and historical look-back at the beginnings of the company and himself. Then he closed with a bit of emoting and rousing:
"This industry will survive," he said. "This industry will be productive.
"It will thrive," he said, because it is "an industry for dreams."
SNEWS View: Wow, whoever didn't want to go straight to the local tattoo parlor after the show for a swoosh tattoo couldn't have been at the same show -- or they were asleep. What a peptalk. What excitement. What, well, emoting! How, yes, Nike. Not that that's a bad thing. It sure was entertaining, and "The Joint" nightclub at the bar pre-theater was frolicking fun. But the talk the next day was more about how much Nike must have spent for the extravaganza. So, hmmm, welcome back to The Super Show. If Nike has a booth next year and sees attendees -- not just special accounts -- we'll say that with more sincerity.