The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
 
Nike Rolls Out New "Kobe: He's Not as Bad as Michael Jackson" Ad Campaign
Originally posted 7/11/2005

Above: a print ad from Nike's new Kobe Bryant campaign
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who signed a $45 million endorsement deal with Nike shortly before his arrest on sexual assault charges two years ago, has finally begun to appear in ads for the company. Nike's new campaign trades on the idea that while Bryant may widely thought of as a petulant, philandering egotist, at least he's not as bad as Michael Jackson.

"We think Kobe is ready to once again be the face of the NBA," said Nike spokesman Rodney Knox of the ads, many of which show images of Bryant but do not identify him by name. "That, and we agreed to pay him all this money and couldn't get out of it since he was never actually convicted of anything. So we may as well try to get some use out of the deal, you know?

"Besides, it's not like he's as bad as some people," Knox continued. "Like Michael Jackson, for instance. Sure, Michael was found not guilty, but Kobe's case didn't even go to trial. That proves he's not as bad, right there."

While Nike showed excitement about the new campaign, others criticized the company's decision to begin using Bryant's likeness.

"Being not quite as bad as Michael Jackson isn't really something to brag about," said Dr. Kimberly Salter, president of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women. "We'd really prefer that Nike not feature athletes that have been accused of sexual assault in their campaigns. Actually, I take that back; you can't necessarily help it if somebody accuses you of something. We'd prefer that Nike not feature athletes who have settled civil lawsuits brought against them by someone who once accused them of sexual assault. How about that?"

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