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En Route To The 2010 FIFA World Cup, Nike Reboots Its Global Executive Team

Part of Nike's new 'management team': Homer Simpson and soccer star Ronaldo in a scene from 'Write the Future' TV commercial.May 20, 2010: As Nike continues to unleash its global marketing forces to take on adidas at the upcoming FIFA World Cup, the company has also revamped its global executive team "to drive growth and reinforce its commitment to developing management talent around the world."

Foremost among the changes is the naming of Joaquin Hidalgo to the new position of vp-emerging markets. Hidalgo, who reports to president of Nike global operations Gary DeStefano, has more than two decades of experience with Nike, most recently as vp-global brand marketing. There, he was "instrumental in building and expanding Nike’s brand globally through innovative product launches and highly successful marketing strategies," according to the company. He previously built and grew Nike’s global football/soccer business as vp-global football and also was vp-USA brand management team.

Nike has also named Davide Grassoas vp-global brand marketing. Grassoas has more than 15 years of marketing management experience, most recently as Nike's vp-global football.

And Jayme Martin, a 13-year Nike vet, has been named vp-global running. Martin had been Nike's vp-emerging markets, but also has held various senior key global and geographic management roles, including vp-Americas region.

“Nike is growing by driving deeper consumer connections and expanding market share,” Charlie Denson, president of the Nike Brand, said in a statement. “[This] announcement strengthens our global management team and we look forward to their leadership in these key roles.”

The changes come just weeks before the World Cup, where adidas is the official category partner of FIFA but Nike has mapped a strategy to net its share of the global spotlight. The stakes are high: The worldwide sale of soccer-related goods hit $10.8 billion in 2008, which was a non-World Cup year, and this year could exceed $11 billion, per marketing consultant and research firm NPD Group, Port Washington, NY.

As an official FIFA partner, adidas balls will be exclusive to the event in South Africa, running from June 11-July 11; all officials and refs there will be outfitted by adidas; and adidas will have exclusive signage in and around all stadiums and local venues, putting their three-stripe logo on TV and other media outlets worldwide. Adidas also will be outfitting 17 of the 32 nations participating, including the home nation South African squad.

But Nike has signed deals with nine national teams taking part in the World Cup, including the U.S., and a tenth squad via its Umbro division, which is the official partner of the English national team.

Nike this week also unveiled its "Write the Future" soccer campaign. Because it does not have rights to use FIFA and official World Cup brands and logos, the campaign, anchored by a TV spot that runs three minutes (but which will be broken into 60-, 30- and 15-second spots for consumption) can only make strong allusions the upcoming soccer event. But it does include such world class players (and Nike spokesmen) as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Fabio Cannavaro, Didier Drogba, Ronaldinho and U.S. National team star Landon Donovan, with each envisioning the future either as bleak after failing to make an important play during a game or beautiful after achieving success on the soccer pitch.

In one scene, England striker Rooney envisions an intercepted pass destroying his career, forcing him to become a groundskeeper and live in a trailer park. But he then re-imagines the play coming to a successful conclusion, bringing with it him knighthood, parents naming their newborns Wayne and even victory playing table tennis with Roger Federer.

Also making guest appearances are NBA all-star Kobe Bryant and TV star Homer Simpson, who gets scored on by a visiting — and equally animated — Ronaldo.

“This epic campaign really captures the scale, emotion and impact that one single moment in a football game can have on a player, fan or nation,” Nike's Grasso said in a statement.

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