Publish date:

Under Review

CROSSOVER APPEAL During the summer of 1990 Nike launched its "Bo
knows" campaign, in which everyone's favorite running
back-outfielder dominated all sports, including, to the
befuddlement of John McEnroe, tennis. The Swoosh people have
again successfully employed the moonlighting jock theme in their
"What if?" spots. The campaign features a series of "highlights"
in which seven athletes master new sports: Andre Agassi, for
instance, stars for the Red Sox, while Brian Urlacher and Mike
Vick skate for the Avalanche. The commercials work so well
because, for the most part, the athletes trained rigorously in
their new sports and really performed their feats, which were
then transplanted by computer onto stock footage. So that is
Andre Agassi slapping a single up the middle--he just did it at
an empty Dodger Stadium, not a packed Fenway Park. A few spots,
like Marion Jones's remarkable gymnastics vault, needed extensive
enhancement. (Jones was digitally superimposed on the actual
vaulter.) But in two cases--Serena Williams's volleyball foray
and Randy Johnson's bowling duel with Pete Weber--the ads air
exactly as they were shot, with no gimmicks. Says Mike Byrne, of
Wieden and Kennedy, the advertising agency that conceived the
spots, "With every athlete, their natural competitive drive came

LIVE ACTION Next month the NFL Network, which launched last fall,
will show--believe it or not--actual football games. Until now
the network has concentrated on news and NFL Films programming.
But beginning on April 3, the channel will air NFL Europe games
on Saturday and Sunday nights. The network also plans extensive
broadcasts of preseason games this summer.