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Nike Assembles All-Star Cast Calling for Equality in Women's Sports

BEAVERTON, Ore. (24 August, 2007) – Today, Nike launched its multi-platform campaign, “ATHLETE,” featuring world-class athletes Mia Hamm, Gabby Reece, Picabo Street, and Serena Williams, among others, demanding that female athletes everywhere be respected and judged on their athletic abilities. After speaking with young female athletes across the United States, Nike found they still feel “unequal” when it comes to being respected in sports.

“I am an ATHLETE,” Mia Hamm defiantly states before streetballer Alvina Carroll closes the spot saying… ”It’s not a girl thing. It’s not a boy thing. It’s a skills thing.”

It is a conversation that Nike has elevated in various ways during the past 35 years with campaigns such as “Let Me Play”, and yet, we are continually reminded that disrespect and inequality continue to permeate the sports landscape.

“Female does not equal less than and women in sport need to be respected for their athletic abilities above and beyond anything else,” said Nancy Monsarrat, Nike US Brand Director. “We know that girls are better with sport in their lives and we believe females should be respected as athletes. The ATHLETE campaign challenges stereotypes and provides a platform for female athletes to air their views” she continued. Nike’s ATHLETE campaign will take a variety of forms including traditional broadcast television, billboard, print, and a robust digital destination. No matter what form it takes, the message will be clear.

“Respect me as an athlete.”

That is the common takeaway from hundreds of conversations with women and teen girls who participate in sports; that “female athlete” equals “athlete,” which is how women and teen girls want to be viewed.

Studies have shown that girls participating in sports have greater self esteem, are less likely to take drugs, and perform better in school, among other positive results. During the past 35 years the number of teen girls participating in sports has increased dramatically from 1-in-27 to 1-in-2 today. Girls now account for 50 percent of all high school athletes, an all-time high.

Fittingly, an unprecedented lineup of athletes have given their time to take part in the Nike ATHLETE campaign in various ways, including:

Tamika Catchings, WNBA, Indiana Fever Cappie Pondexter, WNBA, Phoenix Mercury Diana Taurasi, WNBA, Phoenix Mercury Cherie Nelson, Former Collegiate Basketball All-American Alvina Carroll, Streetball Player Jessica Mendoza, USA Olympic Softball Sarah Reinertsen, Para-Olympic Triathlete Picabo Street, Olympic Skier Gabby Reece, Professional Volleyball Lezleigh Jaworski, Olympic Speedskater Frances Santin, USA Track & Field Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic Snowboarder Mia Hamm, World-Class Soccer Player Serena Williams, World-Class Tennis Player

Community Outreach A community outreach aspect of the ATHLETE campaign is the creation of the Let Me Play for Girls Fund. Nike has committed to an upfront donation of $425,000 ($25,000 in cash and $400,000 in sports footwear, apparel and equipment) to support girls in sport and girls’ sports programs. The Let Me Play for Girls Fund will reside on Nikewomen.com and will issues awards to help support girls in sport.

Additionally, Nike will begin selling the ATHLETE tee and bracelets at Niketown, www.Nike.com, and through participating retailers. Nike will donate $1 from the sale of each tee and bracelet to the fund.

Broadcast One by one, athletes step up on a small stage and begin speaking into a giant megaphone to tell the world what’s on their mind.

“Are boys bigger, stronger, faster? Yes. Is that all that has to do with being an athlete? No,” says Gabby Reece in the opening spot which is scheduled to debut during the WNBA playoffs on ESPN on Saturday, August 25.

“The half-pipe doesn’t care that I’m a girl,” adds Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler as the spot continues.

More spots with the athletes listed above are planned and have been shot but are in development at this time and will be announced at a later date.

Digital Gather some of the most accomplished and passionate athletes of all time, past and present, in one place and what results? More content than any 60-second commercial could ever do justice.

On Saturday, August 25, www.NikeWomen.com will be transformed to ATHLETE, housing hours of conversations from athletes talking candidly about topics that will resonate with women and teen girls.

Bleiler talks about “Sports That Get It Right,” stating that “the pipes thrash the girls just as hard as the boys. I respect that.”

Mia on “Sexism and Sport” says “it wasn’t about being just as good as the boys. I had to be decisively better.”

Print and Out-of-Home The campaign will have a print element, appearing in women’s and teen girl publications this fall and holiday timeframe. Details are still being determined.

Beginning Tuesday, August 28, just in time for the start of the U.S. Open in New York, Serena Williams will tower over Manhattan on a billboard at 34th Street and 7th Avenue. Wearing the ATHLETE tee, racket in-hand, Serena looks confidently straight ahead, the copy asking accusingly, “Are you looking at my titles?”

“I love this campaign because it involves so many strong women saying ‘See me for who I am and what I can do’ because the beauty of sport is not skin deep,” added Williams as she prepares for the 2007 U.S. Open.

NIKE, Inc. based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Cole Haan Holdings Incorporated, a leading designer and marketer of luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and coats; Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and NIKE Bauer Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment.