*Nike Direct Response Ads Get Sales Soaring, Some Stations Sour

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Nike will debut the third and last direct response television Web teaser ad for its Air Cross Trainer II nationally next week -- featuring snowboarding champion Rob Kingwill. Meanwhile, CBS remains the lone station that will not allow any spots in the marketing campaign to end with the phrase "continued at whatever.nike.com."


The first two commercials featured sprinter Marion Jones and home-run king Mark McGwire, respectively. The spots are shot from a first person perspective and cut on action, ending by inviting television viewers to continue viewing the spot on Nike's whatever.nike.com website. Once there, consumers can choose from six possible endings and virtually arrange their own complete spot.


The whatever.nike.com site also links consumers directly to Nike's official website, www.nike.com, where they can get product and retail information and purchase a variety of shoes directly from the company.


When the spots first began airing nationally during the NFL playoffs on January 15, both CBS and NBC refused to allow the phrase "continued at" to proceed the URL address, for fear that ads following the Web call to action would result in viewers turning off their sets and dialing up the address.


According to NBC manager of corporate communications Kyle Kaino, after careful deliberation the company decided to allow the phrase to appear, citing no specific reason other than a general change in policy.


Officials at CBS and NBC would not go on record as to why they both initially refused the call to action, except to say that it was the appropriate measure to take at the time.


One unnamed source at CBS told iMarketing News that, "It's obvious why we wouldn't have the 'continued at' at the end of those spots, and instead just showed the URL," said the source. "We felt advertisers that had their spots following the Nike spot would be up in arms if a message told viewers to effectively turn off their televisions. We can't afford to risk losing money every time the ad is shown."


But Nike denies that that is the intention of the hybrid ads. "The audience we are trying to reach is teens and young adults who are Internet savvy," said Nike communications manager Scott Reames. "One of the reasons we have this call to action is because so many recent studies show more and more young people having their televisions on while they are surfing the net. We don't exactly expect them to stop watching television."


Nike claims that since the ads began airing, retail and web sales for the Air Cross Trainer II have soared.


"These new ads are bringing more people to the whatever.nike.com site then are even coming to our regular commerce site," said Reames. "Since the campaign started, 4 out of 5 of the best selling shoes on the site are cross trainers."
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