Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Nike founder rebrands studio after dog

Marketing master Phil Night has renamed his animation company, greenlighted first film, report says.
July 20, 2005: 10:43 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Laika -- the first dog the former Soviet Union sent to space and who died there -- lives on, thanks to Nike founder Phil Knight.

Knight has changed the name of the entertainment company he controls to Laika Entertainment, as well as given the green light for the animation studio's first feature film release, according to USA Today.

The moves, which drew media attention, reflect Knight's aim to become a movie animation mogul, the report said.

Laika Entertainment consists of Portland, Ore.-based entertainment company Vinton Studios, which Knight has controlled since 2002, according to the newspaper. The studio, which works on advertising and short features, was behind the California Raisins and Fox's animation sitcom "The PJs," USA Today reported.

Laika Entertainment's first feature film, "Coraline," is slated for release as early as 2007 and will use both computer and stop-motion animation, the report said.

According to the article, Knight doesn't expect to spend more than $70 million on the production, although marketing costs could push the final price tag above $100 million. Knight will pay half of the bills for his films, and Laika is looking for a partner to foot the other half, the paper said.

The newspaper said Knight has made no secret of his animation dreams and is aiming for his studio to join the ranks of profitable animation studios like Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky Studios.

In this aim, Knight hired Henry Selick -- the director of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach" -- to be Vinton Studios' supervising director, USA Today said. Selick will also direct "Coraline," the report added.

Newcomer Laika faces a lot of competition in the computer animation industry, the report said. George Lucas has plans to enter the game, and several major studios have films underway.

But Knight won't be easily scared away. "When Nike was small, Phil didn't want to be Adidas. He wanted to beat Adidas. He knows who the competition is," the newspaper quoted Bob Harold, Laika's interim CEO, as saying.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hidden Nike agenda sullies a noble goal

Published on: 07/19/05

My school hallways are like a sea of yellow. Everywhere I look, I see those trendy yellow Livestrong wristbands. I overhear girls talking about how cute they look. I see kids with their forearms covered in them. Charity groups have approached me at my school selling them.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation is targeting my generation with these yellow bands because we seem to have a lot of disposable income. This seems to be a good generation to market to, as more than 46 million bands have been sold.
John Henry Hinkel, a rising sophomore at Paideia School, is a writer for VOX, an independent, citywide newspaper published by and for teens.

To me, the bands were like a win-win situation. I was giving money to fight cancer and at the same time, was receiving a trendy wristband already being worn by my peers.

When I bought one, I felt proud of myself. It seemed to me to be a noble cause. It seemed to be too good to be true. I was right.

Upon logging on to the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Web site, I saw that one of its top sponsors was Nike. In fact, Nike commissioned designers for the bands.

This seemed interesting because Nike is a corporation that is not receiving such great press. It has been accused of outsourcing its labor to sweatshops. Social groups have accused Nike of paying its workers insufficient wages to meet their basic needs and destroying local economies.

I went further into the Web site and viewed other Lance Armstrong apparel manufactured by Nike. There were Lance Armstrong Nike gift cards, Lance Armstrong shirts, and Lance Armstrong jackets. This apparel was more expensive than the simple Livestrong bands, and a notice let me know that only $1 from these purchases would go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

When I looked on the inside of the band, I saw that it was made in China. The creator of the band, Lance Armstrong, is American. Most of the people receiving the benefits from the band are American. It seemed to me that the bands should also be made in America.

This disheartened me very much. I had always thought of the Livestrong bands as being part of a pure cause that has its heart in the right place. Now, with this new information, I began to view the bands as being an advertising gimmick by Nike.

Nike is marketing them to my generation as being a charitable way to spend your money. The bands are giving Nike a better name by making the corporation sound generous.

But it seems to me that the real motive behind these bands is to help advertise other Nike products that are distantly related to the foundation. I feel deceived. When I buy something, especially something to promote a cause, I want that cause to be sincere.

Now when I look at my Livestrong band, I view it in a whole different light. Instead of a symbol of the fight against cancer, I see it as a cheap promotional item. Now when I see that sea of yellow, I will look at it in a whole different way.

— New Attitudes is a weekly opinion column written by readers between the ages of 15-22. E-mail submissions or questions to or call 404-526-7371.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tiger Woods Leads the Charge for Nike Golf as an Outstanding Year Unfolds

Woods Ignites the Open Championship at St. Andrews

BEAVERTON, Ore., July 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- -- Jack said goodbye. Tiger said hello -- again. In Tiger-like fashion, Tiger Woods romped to a wire-to-wire victory and bested the field by five strokes to capture his second Open Championship title, complete his second grand slam and win the 10th major championship of his career.

Through the power of intention, Tiger continues to light up his sport by performing unbelievable shots that make history. He produces the kind of results that he expects from his arsenal of Nike Golf equipment that includes the Ignite 460 Driver, T60 3-Wood, Nike Forged Blades irons, 56-degree and 60-degree Pro Combo Wedges and the Nike One Platinum ball. The most powerful player in golf literally "Ignited" The Open Championship by leading the field in driving distance. His season average driving distance is 312.1 yards, a new career high.

He also is leading the charge for Nike Golf and its athletes in what is unfolding as a record year of Nike victories and top performances on the world's professional tours in 2005 -- remarkable results aided by innovative technology.

By virtue of Tiger's claim of his second Claret Jug, the Nike Ignite Driver and the Nike One Ball now is the winningest combination on the PGA Tour. No other driver-ball combination has triumphed so far in 2005 as much as the Ignite 460 and 410, and the One Ball Series, including the Nike One Platinum, Nike One Black and Nike One Gold.

Tiger's victory at The Open Championship is his second 2005 major title and fourth victory overall. His win for the Nike Golf staff this week was joined by yesterday's Nationwide Tour victory for Jason Gore at the Scholarship American Showdown. For Nike Golf, this brings the total wins on the world's professional tours this year to 13 (6 on the PGA Tour; 5 on the Nationwide; and 2 internationally). In terms of top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, there has been an impressive 21 by Nike Golf athletes.

Further proof that Nike Golf is making big footprints in the golf industry is the performance by Justin Leonard, who joined the Nike Golf staff in January. Leonard won his first PGA Tour event in more than a year, just 11 days after he began playing the Ignite 410, the Forged Blades and the Nike One Black ball. At the Byron Nelson Championship, Leonard switched colors from the One Black to the One Platinum ball. Two weeks later, he won the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic marking only the second time in his career that he has captured multiple victories in a single season. Leonard's wins are joined by the international victories of Nike Golf's KJ Choi and Paul Casey.

Gore's victory yesterday on the Nationwide Tour further highlights a gathering of momentum as Nike Golf staffers on that tour have amassed six victories. That includes three by Chris Couch (the current money leader), one by Kim Felton, and two by media darling Gore. Gore, who warmed the hearts of the gallery at this year's U.S. Open, uses the Nike Pro Combo Tour irons, which have helped catapult him to the top-10 on the Nationwide Tour money list.

It is not only Nike golf equipment that enhances each of its athletes' performances. For every shot, every putt, every footstep, every kind of weather condition, inspiring confidence, comfort and innovation cannot be minimized. From the Nike polos, to the mocks to the Nike Sphere React, every piece of material matters in each of Nike Golf athletes' competitive experience. And each footstep toward the winning final hole, whether it's the SP6 or SP7 TW Tour, or any of the Nike footwear models, influences the total package -- and Nike Golf has the total package.

Undoubtedly, two-thirds into the 2005 Tour season Nike Golf is making some noise -- and it's the technological innovation that has been the spark that lights Nike Golf's fire.

Located in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike Golf designs and markets golf equipment, apparel, balls, footwear, bags and accessories worldwide. Nike Golf is passionately dedicated to honoring and respecting the traditions and heritage of the game, and to providing committed golfers with the absolute best equipment in the game. In 2005, Nike Golf's Tour Staff have accumulated six PGA Tour victories and 21 top-10 finishes. LPGA player Grace Park has recorded two top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour so far.

For more information on Nike Golf, visit our Web site at Editors and journalists seeking editorial information and downloadable images, visit

Source: Nike Golf

Thursday, June 02, 2005

B&L-Nike developing athletic performance contact lenses

The collaborative effort is intended to create an extra glare-proof edge in sports

(June 2, 2005) — Bausch & Lomb Inc. wants to help athletes have a better chance of hitting the unhittable pitch, reaching the unreturnable serve, reading the unsinkable putt and achieving other impressive feats.

The Rochester eye care company is teaming with Nike Inc. to produce special contact lenses designed to improve performances on outdoor fields of play.

The new Nike MaxSight lenses by Bausch & Lomb are engineered to block specific wavelengths of light — mainly ultraviolet and blue — to reduce glare, enhance contrast and improve clarity. The idea is to help athletes see crisper images where balls or other elements of their sports appear to "pop out" against backgrounds.

The MaxSight line was jointly developed by B&L scientists in Rochester, working in collaboration with Nike researchers focused on the science of sport. They are being made at B&L's Optics Center on North Goodman Street, set to undergo a $25 million expansion of its manufacturing and research facilities.

"There's nothing more important in sports than vision. This is giving people the opportunity to have vision that goes beyond their corrected levels," said Dr. Justin J. Verrone of Eye Site of Penfield, who will be among the first optometrists in the Rochester area to prescribe the daily-wear lenses, which the company says should be replaced monthly. "This is a piece of a puzzle that can help create an edge."

MaxSight — and B&L's role in the project — are about to get some significant nationwide publicity. This week's Sports Illustrated mentions the lenses; MaxSight is also expected to be mentioned in USA Today Friday and on the ESPN cable network on Saturday.

Players try lenses

The media lens will likely focus to some degree on Brian Roberts of the Baltimore Orioles, a former member of the Rochester Red Wings. Roberts, who plays second base, has worn the MaxSight lenses in four or five day games this year. He's having a breakthrough year, leading the American League with a .368 batting average.

He said in a phone interview this week that the lenses have helped reduce eye strain on sunny days — but haven't necessarily given him an advantage at the plate.

"I don't think there's any magic trick that can help you see the laces on a ball traveling 95 mph," Roberts said before the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. He notes that the biggest advantage is that the lenses keep him from squinting. His description: "It's kind of like wearing sunglasses all the time."

The lenses are the outgrowth of an unlikely venture between B&L and the company that urges its athletically minded customers to "just do it."

Nike is probably best-known for the cachet of its sneakers and other athletic footwear, which are found in virtually every shoe store and worn by professionals such as golfer Tiger Woods and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Lebron James.

But Nike also markets clothing, equipment and accessories and conducts a wide range of research to improve athletic performance. The company, based in Beaverton, Ore., employs specialists in biomechanics, exercise physiology, engineering, industrial design and related fields. It approached B&L to collaborate on the project.

While the lenses are designed to aid visual performance in athletic settings, they can also be worn daily off the field of play, said Dr. William T. Reindel, director of scientific and clinical affairs at B&L. By reducing eye strain, "the lenses help athletes relax, so they compete better," Reindel said.

The partnership pairs Nike's research into the ways colors affect sports — for instance, blue skies, white balls and green grass — with B&L's understanding of vision science and experience in contact lens design and manufacturing.

Baseball players, for instance, said "they had never seen the ball so soon off the pitcher's hand, and that helps with accuracy," said John D. Stewart, director of vision care global strategy for B&L.

One set of test subjects came from the Division III baseball team at Pacific University in Oregon. A group of players wore the lenses at various times over two seasons.

Coach Greg Bradley asked to be allowed to test the lenses first. "I am not a contact lens wearer, but when I put them in, it was 'Wow,'" Bradley said in an interview. "It cleared out things a bit."

He said there is some statistical evidence that players wearing the lenses improved their performances.

B&L and Nike are continuing to collaborate on projects such as lenses to improve vision during night games. Other applications are conceivable but the current focus is on athletes, B&L spokeswoman Margaret Graham said.

The lenses will be available in late summer. B&L does not set retail prices but expects a box of six lenses to sell for $50 to $60.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Improving Posture with Orthotic Shoe Inserts

You may not realize it, but poor posture is a major contributor to back pain. Slouching in your chair, hunching your shoulders and tilting your head can all lead to back pain. The way you walk, stand and run also has a huge effect on muscles in your back Often, proper posture begins at your feet. Without proper foot support it’s difficult to have proper posture.

Correcting your posture can have immediate benefits in relieving pain. Straightening your shoulders, pulling in your abdomen, and properly balancing weight on both feet will not only result in a better appearance, but will tremendously reduce strain on back muscles.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the use of ergonomic products “can greatly reduce the risk of back injury and help maintain a healthy back.” Ergonomically designed chairs, desks and tools that provide proper support and positioning are also effective in relieving back pain. Other products, such as specially designed shoe inserts, can help relieve back pain when standing, walking and running by providing proper support and alignment for feet, hips and knees.

Performing upright activities without proper support is a leading cause of back injuries. Running, lifting and twisting are all activities that depend on proper support from the feet. It is vital to balance weight evenly on the balls of your feet, support the arches, and keep ankles, knees and hips in alignment with the body. When arches are unsupported, or knees and hips bow in or out, back pain and injury result. Many specialized products have been created to solve these problems and provide proper foot support. One notable and affordable product, the Phase 4 Orthotics shoe inserts, covers all of the bases, including arch support, alignment and balance.

As seen on TV, Orthotics shoe inserts are designed to relieve pressure on the back by creating balance and alignment, as well as providing support. Available in all sizes, and easily affordable, the inserts are a good first step in relieving back pain.

Another important factor in relieving back pain is moderate exercise and stretching activities. A regular routine will build and strengthen back muscles and result in better posture. As your physical condition improves, so will your posture. As your posture improves, back pain will decrease. Regular exercise can also help keep you more aware of your posture, reminding you to keep your shoulders back and your stomach in. The use of shoe inserts that keep your feet properly aligned also serve as a reminder to maintain proper posture.

High impact activities such as running or aerobics can also be a source of back pain due to improper balance and support. Taking care to stretch thoroughly and making certain that ankles and arches are properly supported is vital to preventing back injuries.

When searching for back pain relief, or preventative measures, posture, exercise and support are vital. Starting at the root of the problem, which can often be improper foot support, can provide major relief without the use of drugs and medical treatments.

About the Author
Johann Erickson is the owner of Online Discount Mart and TV Products 4 Less. He is also a contributing writer for sites such as Helpful Home Ideas. Please include an active link to our site if you'd like to reprint this article.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Manchester United Board Chews Over Glazer's Latest $1.5B Offer

They call Manchester United's stadium the "theatre of dreams". But it seems that nobody at Old Trafford wants Malcolm Glazer to have even a bit-part in their play. Everyone from club manager Sir Alex Ferguson -- a perennially worried-looking Scotsman who chews gum as though his life depends on it-- to the team's most casual fan seems fervently opposed to what they see as a charlatan Yankee intrusion on their Beautiful Game. Glazer's latest $1.5 billion bid will not appease the Red Devils' supporters-- as they are known-- since the financial terms of the bid have been left virtually unchanged. Glazer, the owner of U.S. football's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, put pressure on United's board to give its support for the 300 pence per share offer, a price directors called "fair" for shareholders. (source)

Monday, April 11, 2005

nike gossip

nike gossip

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chronology of the case....

Due to constantly increasing quotas with no pay increase, compulsory overtime, poor quality of drinking water, verbal abuse from supervisors and daily body searches that at times amounted to sexual harassment, five workers met on 9 November 2003 to form a union at the factory. One of the organisers, Samai Kongtalei was dismissed by management due to a 'reduction in orders' but she was later rehired. On 24 November 2003, Ms. Kongtalei and another activist worker, Ms. Atchara Sophon were dismissed for submitting worker's demands to management. Nike monitors were also contacted by local organizations and asked to intervene on behalf of the workers, with positive results. After intervention by the National Human Rights Commission the dismissed workers were reinstated in February 2004. There were some improvements such as the company provided lockers, clean drinking water for workers and a food allowance of 5 Bath per day. Workers continue their efforts to form a union to address the other issues.

On 12 October 2004 the union was registered. When the union launched a campaign for new members and on 29 October 2004, three union executives were dismissed.

On November 23 CLIST contacted Nike, as well as the Fair Labour Association (FLA). Upon CLIST's request CCC also contacted Nike directly, and urged them to discuss the matter directly with CLIST and the fired workers. On the 26th a press release on the case was put out by CLIST. Meanwhile, the French CCC contacted Decathlon and confirmed that the company subcontracts with MSP.

The three dismissed union activists, together with CLIST, met with Nike's regional coordinator and a local FLA representative on 8 December to attempt to find a solution. After talks were held, CLIST reported that another member of the union executive, Mr. Pragun Boonluom, was being harassed by factory management. On 13 December a letter was sent to Nike's regional coordinator calling for an end to this harassment and for a swift resolution to this dispute.

A follow-up meeting was held on 14 December 2004 where a conciliator from the Welfare and Labour Protection Department of the Ministry of Labour Thailand , two company representatives, the three dismissed workers, CP Nonthong Union and Nike representatives were in attendance.

The conciliator stated that in his opinion, the company had clearly violated the right to organize, and attempted to destroy the labour union by dismissing the three workers because of their union activities. The owner, Mr. Peter Krautler, stated in a letter that he had no intention to reinstate the dismissed workers. Instead, he offered them money equaling ten months salary in an attempt to induce them to drop their demands. All three workers refused to accept this money and stated they would continue fighting for their rights. In the meantime, the mother of one of the union activists who was working at the same factory was also dismissed. This appeared to be a continuation of the company's intimidation tactics at the factory while talks with management and Nike were taking place.

CLIST wrote a letter to Nike on 15 December asking for a meeting to take place before 20 December 2004 with all parties concerned to present their information regarding the violations of Nike's Code of Conduct, and once more submitted their demands.

1. Reinstatement of the 3 dismissed workers with back wages from the first day of dismissal until their reinstatement.
2. The company must reinstate the mother of one of the committee members of the trade union, who was also working at the factory and whom the union members believe got fired because of her family connection.
3. The company must rescind warning letters issued to Mr. Pragun Boonluom, a union activist who was arbitrarily transferred from his sewing line to the cutting line without being given adequate training for his new duties. He was therefore unable to meet quotas and received a warning letter.
4. The company must stop all actions against the union and cease distributing misleading information about the union.
5. The company must allow the union to give leaflets and union membership application forms freely in the work place without intimidation or any form of interference to prevent workers from joining the union.

Nike reported on 15 December 2004 that they were discussing with factory management how follow-up the conciliator's recommendation that the workers would be rehired. In the subsequent email exchanges, the company indicated that the Austrian management strongly opposed this, and that Nike wanted to ultimately follow the governments ruling on the case. CLIST and CCC made it clear to Nike that, although the dismissed union members will file against their dismissal with the relevant authorities if the case is not resolved by the end of December, the legal framework as such has failed many times in the past to ensure that freedom of association is genuinely respected, and that though we expect Nike to work with the authorities, they can't and shouldn't wait for the authorities to solve the problem. Nike's code of conduct has been violated, so Nike has a responsibility to act directly itself.

On the 23d of December Nike informed CLIST that they'd requested the conciliator to identify appropriate next steps. The conciliator, after being contacted by CLIST, stated that there are two options, a higher amount of compensation can be discussed and negotiated, or, the workers can follow the standard legal procedure through the Labour relations committee.

This has been a great disappointment to the union's executive and to CLIST: as outlined above, the confidence in the existing legal procedures is very low as it offers loopholes to avoid genuine freedom of association, and it is likely that this process will take a long time and not result in rehiring of the workers, but rather in paying them off with an amount probably lower then what was on offer earlier. If at the end of the day workers get referred back to the existing legal procedures then what is the use of having a Code of Conduct? If this means that Nike's Code of Conduct has no relevance if the legal procedure is followed, then why bother having a code at all?

Furthermore, A request was made in the December 15 letter to set up a meeting with all parties concerned where also the results of Nike's own investigation could be shared, to which no reaction has been given.

The workers have filed against their dismissal on the 23d, but meanwhile strongly believe that Nike should share the results of their investigation and their conclusions, and implement its code without waiting for the outcome of the legal process. They have informed the FLA that they wish to file an official complaint with them as well.

Meanwhile Decathlon have done less, as they've only agreed to look into matters as part of its regular audit process, which was scheduled anyway for the end of December. No contact has been made by Decathlon with CLIST or with the union, despite repeated requests.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Union busting at Thai factory producing for Decathlon and Nike

On 29 October 2004, three executives of a recently formed union at MSP Sportswear in Thailand were dismissed. Since then, the remaining nine executives in the plant have been subjected to constant harassment and have been prevented from carrying out their union activities.

In the period since the dismissal there have been several meetings between the union executives, the local organization supporting them (CLIST), government officials and the main buyer, Nike. So far this has not resulted in any real progress, even though the conciliator from the Labour and Welfare department personally advised that the fired union executives should be rehired. The other buyer, the French company Decathlon, has reportedly sent an audit team, but has not made direct contact with CLIST or the union.

Please find below a chronology of the case, an appeal for action and sample letters plus addresses.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Good news in MSP Sportswear Thai case


Good news in MSP Sportswear Thai case: union activists reinstated in Thailand

Union activists at the MSP Sportswear factory in Thailand have been reinstated. This is great news and we thank everyone who sent letters of support for this campaign. An agreement has been reached between all involved parties. Activists and CLIST (the Thai organisations supporting the union at MSP) are satisfied with this agreement and call on the international campaign in support of the workers to be suspended. Click here for more information.

March 2005
Will Nike do it right in Thai factory?
This month's newsletter features debate between Nike and Oxfam Community Aid Abroad regarding the dismissal of union members from the MSP Sportswear factory in Thailand.
Here are the highlights:
1. Will NIKE to do the right thing at MSP Sportswear, Thailand?

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad has been writing to Nike in support of three union leaders dismissed for forming a union at MSP Sportswear in Thailand. Nike's latest response seems to indicate that international concern is starting to have an impact.
  • take action

  • 2. Three Years is Enough! Sri Lankan workers want their jobs back

    The Global Sports Lanka factory in Sri Lanka produces windsurfing sails under the North Sails label. Three years ago the factory dismissed 207 workers who took strike action to hold onto their existing conditions. Thirty-eight of these workers are still fighting to get their jobs back.

    3. Big win for workers' rights in USA - Taco Bell boycott over!

    On 8 March Taco Bell finally responded to a four-year worker and consumer campaign by signing an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for a 'Penny a Pound' from Taco Bell directly to agricultural workers' producing tomatoes for Taco Bell. Oxfam was one of many organisations that supported the campaign.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    reebok is the enemy

    On the basketball front, it is not so much Adidas as it is Reebok that Nike seeks to contain. Reebok signed Allen Iverson to a (perhaps you should sit down for this) lifetime deal. True, much unlike Kobe who supposedly lacks street cred, LeBron comes packed with inner-city appeal, so it should come as no surprise that Nike made a bold bid. How bold? Well, how bold is over $90 million for seven years for a kid who can't drink in all 50 states (that's 50 states, not 50 Cents) and has yet to play a minute of college ball, let alone pro ball?

    But Reebok is not even the greater specter haunting Nike's dominance. While Nike competes with the likes of Reebok on shelves, it is key that it has a solid relationship with the owner of those shelves. Unfortunately (or fortunately for anti-Nike aficionados), Nike recently had a rough period with Foot Locker.

    Had Reebok signed LeBron, Foot Locker could've added insult to injury by flooding Nike products with Reebok's LeBron garb. Worse even, Foot Locker could snub Nike and relegate it to second-class citizen. Yes, Nike built Foot Locker (and its ilk) to a large extent, but sadly, business is a bitch and with a LeBron-injected Reebok, Foot Locker could've blanketed Nike against consumers -- unless, of course, Nike gets its act together online, but that seems as far-fetched as the Los Angeles Clippers signing their free agents.

    you can't label lebron

    It is hard to put LeBron's deal in the proper context. After all, if $90 million really is a drop in the "basket" for an entity like Nike, then how could we cast this deal in the proper light?

    Once upon a time, there was this other gentleman who hailed not from Ohio but North Carolina. Jordan was his name, Michael Jordan. Back in 1984, freshly drafted third overall, Nike signed MJ to a five-year contract worth $2.5 million. For those who care, MJ was smart enough to secure royalties, had he not, MJ would not be, well, MJ. Say what you will -- and this in no way intends to take anything away from MJ -- but in the larger context, Nike did as much to build MJ as MJ did to build Nike. After all, not all the best players have corporations' marketing muscle to build upon.

    How will the critics look at this deal? Who cares? Back in 1984, Fortune magazine mocked Nike.

    How will the gods look down upon the LeBron-Nike deal?

    Do not take my word for it; take the stock market's two cents. When the deal was announced, Nike's stock price barely moved. That can be explained by many factors, but when the bottom line is tallied, the notes in the annual statement will state that the potential downside of not securing LeBron at the time the deal was consummated far outweighed the costs. But the cost itself was largely immaterial to a going concern like Nike.

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    Pirates of the Willamette.


    It's well established that ripping off other people's copyrights and patents constitutes a major industry in China. How ironic, then, that a Chinese court recently slapped Beaverton-based Nike and Portland-headquartered ad agency Wieden & Kennedy for that very sin. A court in Beijing ruled that a Nike campaign featuring sporty stick figures, developed by WK's Amsterdam office, plagiarized the work of a Chinese artist. The court ordered Nike to pay about $36,000 in damages and apologize--and never mind the millions in fakeola Air Jordans produced in the People's Republic each year. In a prepared statement, Nike maintained that the Chinese artist did NOT invent the stick man and said it is considering an appeal to the Beijing High People's Court. Wieden & Kennedy declined to comment.

    When light rail came to North Portland last year, some thought the nonprofit Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, which operates a theater, art galleries and a dance studio in a historic firehouse on North Interstate Avenue, would become a cultural engine for NoPo. Instead, the 23-year-old institution is in serious trouble. Partially funded by the city to the tune of roughly $90,000 a year, the Center is in deep financial straits, which some attribute to management problems. To get it over this hump, it's seeking a city bailout of about $100,000--not the likeliest prospect.

    It's true: Stuffing your face can help tsunami victims. Many local restaurants have added charity donations for ravaged Southeast Asian communities to their menus this month. On selected nights through mid-February, dinner club ripe (235-2294) is opening up its Family Supper cash bowl, donating all proceeds to local relief heroes Mercy Corps. Karjit Singh, the owner and chef of Gandhi's East Indian Cafe (827 SW 2nd Ave.) is donating his entire profits for the week up to Friday, Jan. 14. Kells Irish Pub (112 SW 2nd Ave.) will donate all of its Friday proceeds to Northwest Medical Teams and Mercy Corps. Today only, Beaverton's Thailand Restaurant (15915 NW Schendel Ave.) has pledged to donate every cent of its lunch proceeds to relief efforts. Bon appétit!

    On Monday, a North Portland man lost his long battle to adopt a boy when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to strike down Florida's gay-adoption ban. Steven Lofton, a former Miami Beach resident who became a foster parent to an HIV-positive boy nobody wanted in 1991, filed a lawsuit five years ago after his bid to adopt was blocked.

    Last week's story on cop grumbling over a new Police Bureau policy curbing paid leave for officers involved in shootings ("Blue Battle Brewing") sparked an internal response from Chief Derrick Foxworth. In a Jan. 7 memo to every Portland cop, he said "the article misrepresented many items in regard to this issue." His only example was to maintain that responsibility for the policy lies with him and not, as the article stated, Assistant Chief Stanley Grubbs.

    Fans of Portland's bestselling musician Art Alexakis have a new trivia source: federal court records. Last week, the leader of the alt-rock band Everclear filed for bankruptcy in a California court. The docs show Alexakis' debts topping $3 million, with a hefty $2.75 million owed to the IRS for back taxes. What's perhaps a bit scary is that these days anyone can register on Pacer, the online federal court website, and, for a small fee, read the details of his plight for themselves. Alexakis has yet to submit a list of his assets to the court; when he does, we're betting there will be a lot of boxes of unsold Everclear CDs somewhere in there.

    Originally published on WEDNESDAY, 1/12/2005
    newsdesk at

    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    Armstrong Promotes Cancer Research

    With Lance Armstrong pushing for a record sixth consecutive Tour de France title this summer, his cancer research foundation is using the signature color of the world's most grueling bicycle race for a new fund-raising campaign.

    The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike are promoting the sale of yellow wristbands engraved with the message, "Live Strong."

    "Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yellow makes me suffer. Yellow is the reason I'm here," Armstrong said. "Young people with cancer should be empowered to fight hard, dream big and live strong."

    On sale since May 17, the wristbands can be purchased for $1 online at or at Nike retailers.

    The company will donate $1 million to the foundation, which hopes to raise an additional $5 million through wristband sales. Proceeds will go to the foundation for programs for young people with cancer.

    Foundation President Mitch Stoller said officials hope the wristbands will become as recognizable as the pink ribbons associated with breast cancer.

    Armstrong overcame advanced testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. He went from having a 50 percent chance to live in 1996 to a string a five straight tour wins from 1999-2003, forever linking himself with the yellow jersey worn by the tour leader and champion.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2004

    Dignity Return - a 'sweat-free' garment operation in Thailand

    Thai Factory Makes Worker-friendly Capitalism
    Jan 2004 - Marwaan Macan-Markar

    'Dignity Return' is a clothing label still on the fringe of Thailand's sprawling world of garment factories, where globally known brands like Nike and Levis dominate. But it represents hope - and more - for the Thais churning out T-shirts and headbands bearing the stamp of this new label.

    BANGKOK, Jan 13 (IPS) - It is a name that conveys the spirit of the 30 men and women who have banded together to produce this small, yet symbolic line of clothing. It also relays how they feel - as workers with dignity - at their factory set amidst grey, dust-coated buildings in an industrial zone on the western fringes of Bangkok.

    Kanchana Wongpan and Sunee Narmso, two women workers in their twenties from north-east Thailand, the country's poverty belt, find rewarding the hours they spend behind sewing machines to produce clothing bearing the 'Dignity Return' brand and other products like children's clothes.

    ''Working in this factory is different from factories I have worked in earlier. There is no exploitation or abuse. No labour violations,'' says Sunee, a slim-built woman with shoulder-length hair. ''This place is unique because of that.''

    Pausing from the work she was doing on a shirt, Kanchana says that to begin with, the factory ''is completely owned by the workers'' and there is freedom for the ''workers to express our views and get involved in decisions for the factory''.

    The barely one-year old factory captures this sense of labour unity through its name too -- the Solidarity Group, which will be sharing its brand of worker-friendly capitalism at a workshop at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Mumbai, India this week.

    The WSF is an annual gathering of non-governmental groups and activists critical of the current world economic and political order.

    Other details set the factory apart from the 2,641 garment factories that dot this country's urban and rural landscape. The workers do not have to wear a uniform, music from radios fills the open, airy factory floor, and the walls are adorned with posters that celebrate labour rights.

    'Let's Show Capitalists That Global Labour Solidarity Is Real', declares one poster.

    The venture was set up in March 2003 after most of the workers at the Solidarity Group, including Kanchana and Sunee, waged a three-month battle with the owners of the garment factory they had worked for till the end of 2002. That factory had collapsed due to mismanagement and over 800 workers were thrown out into the streets without any notice or promise of compensation.

    Subsequently, the workers banded together to become factory owners, but not without having to depend on loans from a range of sources, including the ministry of labour, and their own friends. Some equipment, including a few sewing machines, had to be borrowed.

    ''It will take us about two years to repay the loans, and then this factory will be ours,'' Manop Kaewphaka, who handles marketing, says on an optimistic note. ''We are trying to increase our client base. Eighty percent of the work we do are orders subcontracted to us.''

    The Solidarity Group has a common monthly wage among its members -- 4,500 baht per month (110 U.S. dollars) - and an equal load of working six days per week.

    ''We have no manager here, but three people have been nominated to check for quality,'' adds Manop. ''The decisions are made at the regular meetings we have among us.''

    For Thai labour rights activist Junya Yimprasert, the workers at the Solidarity Group are indulging in a pursuit that is far from naive. ''This unique venture shows the business sector that the workers have the capacity to run their own factories and in a more satisfying way,'' Junya, the founder of Thai Labour Campaign, a Bangkok-based labour rights lobby, told IPS.

    As significant, she observes, is the message it conveys to companies that exploit labour in the current climate of economic globalisation. ''This is a challenge to exploitation, to businesses that say 'without us you die'. These factory workers are asserting that an alternative is possible, which is an idea that capitalists are not in favour of.''

    Exploitation at garment factories has been a troubling feature for years in Thailand, asserts Wichai Narapaiboon, an officer at the recently opened Thai Labour Museum. ''The lower the technology in factories, the greater the exploitation.''

    Often, he explained in an interview, workers are not aware of their rights and hence are unable to recognise the exploitation they are subject to. ''This is made worse by local laws, which do not protect workers who try to start unions in their factories.''

    There are some 840,460 workers in the Thai garment sector. More than 65,000 workers are attached to the 741 weaving factories and a further 118,520 workers at the 1,332 knitting factories.

    In 2002, the value of Thai textile and clothing exports reached 2.98 billion U.S. dollars, according to a study done by Junya.

    Kanchana and Sunee are well aware of the new, yet risky road they have embarked on. ''If this factory proves to be a success, I will feel proud, because this is our own effort. An important victory for our struggles,'' says Kanchana.

    Sunee hopes that other garment workers would join their ranks by ''setting up their own factories''. Some factory workers are envious of us, she adds, because ''they do not have the same freedom, and because of the exploitation they face.'' (END/2004)

    -- Jeff Ballinger