In the cross training war between Nike and Under Armour, I gave the early edge to Nike.
Why? Well, I liked Nike's commercial a little bit better and I thought that Under Armour's decision to run their spot during the Super Bowl was the wrong one.
I also liked the fact that Nike had the SPARQ license and a training program to tie itself to, a month and a half head start and a shoe that came in $10 cheaper than its competitor. Well, we're a month into Nike's rollout and I've now officially changed my mind. Yesterday, I received a note from Matt Powell of SportsOneSource, who is usually singing Nike's praises.
Powell in his March note wrote:
"The Nike Sparq performance trainer launch could only be termed as 'disappointing so far. Nike performing training sales actually declined for March. One theory is that kids will not be forced into wearing a sport specific shoe right now. Also, the timing may have been wrong for sport specific training footwear, with March being in the middle of spring sports season. Finally, a recession is probably the wrong time to ask Mom and Dad to buy a second shoe. We don't believe the disappointing SPARQ results will bode ill for the Under Armour release. There are surely a million kids in America who are so committed to UA that they will buy the Prototype Shoe. It is important to remember that the Prototype is the first UA shoe kids can wear to school."
One massive piece of the puzzle that Powell didn't include? A big player called Dick's Sporting Goods .
A couple months ago, I got a phone call from one of the people I routinely talk to. He told me that Dick's didn't buy a single Nike SPARQ shoe and bought big time into Under Armour's prototypes.
Correction: I later found out that Dick's did purchase SPARQ shoes, though in very limited quantities.
People read Dick's as Under Armour guys, but they sell tons of Nike stuff too. They are strongly committed to Nike Plus running and have the Livestrong and ACG exclusive. What I'm saying is these guys came in with no bias and they decided that Under Armour was the going to be the winner in this battle and by virtue of that decision that just might be who wins this game in the end. Now let's sit back and watch. The UA trainers hit the market on May 3.
In other SPARQ news, the University of Florida asked Nike to take down all references to quarterback Tim Tebow on its SPARQ websiteyesterday.
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