During the summer of 1990 Nike launched its "Bo knows" campaign, in which everyone's favorite running back-outfielder dominated all sports, including, to the befuddlement of John McEnroe, tennis. The Swoosh people have again successfully employed the moonlighting jock theme in their "What if?" spots. The campaign features a series of "highlights" in which seven athletes master new sports: Andre Agassi, for instance, stars for the Red Sox, while Brian Urlacher and Mike Vick skate for the Avalanche. The commercials work so well because, for the most part, the athletes trained rigorously in their new sports and really performed their feats, which were then transplanted by computer onto stock footage. So that is Andre Agassi slapping a single up the middle—he just did it at an empty Dodger Stadium, not a packed Fenway Park. A few spots, like Marion Jones's remarkable gymnastics vault, needed extensive enhancement. ( Jones was digitally superimposed on the actual vaulter.) But in two cases—Serena Williams's volleyball foray and Randy Johnson's bowling duel with Pete Weber—the ads air exactly as they were shot, with no gimmicks. Says Mike Byrne, of Wieden and Kennedy, the advertising agency that conceived the spots, "With every athlete, their natural competitive drive came out."
Next month the NFL Network, which launched last fall, will show—believe it or not—actual football games. Until now the network has concentrated on news and NFL Films programming. But beginning on April 3, the channel will air NFL Europe games on Saturday and Sunday nights. The network also plans extensive broadcasts of preseason games this summer.