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I'm not sure I think this is such a great idea.



Reebok signs talented kids up

By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY

Searches for talented kids are a longtime American favorite. Among the latest on TV: A 12-year-old singer-guitar player named Cheyenne recently pocketed $50,000 for winning NBC's America's Most Talented Kid. And Fox plans a pre-teen version of American Idol called American Juniors.

Now Reebok, the nation's No. 2 athletic-equipment company, will roll out a national marketing promotion incorporating a youth sports "star search." The campaign is being built around basketball sharpshooter Mark Walker Jr. ? a pint-sized king of the court who is only 3½ years old.

A TV ad will show tape of Mark in the family garage sinking a personal best 18 straight at an 8-foot youth hoop (an NBA hoop is 10 feet) and proclaim him the "future of basketball." A Reebok Web site will showcase the young phenom and include home movies of him in diapers shooting at a kiddie hoop at the age of 21 months. (Related: Go see the video.)

The slogan will be: "Do You Have a Mark Walker in Your Family?" And consumers will be invited to send e-mails and tapes touting their own child sports stars. If the response is big enough, Reebok will turn it into a national contest and pitch a TV network on televising the results, says Micky Pant, Reebok's chief marketing officer.

"There's a fascination we all have with child prodigies. This could lead to us doing original TV content with kids," Pant says.

It's already led to a TV gig for Mark, who sharpens his shooting skills daily with his dad in his driveway. On Tuesday he is to appear on the BET hip-hop show 106 & Park with pop star Beyonce Knowles. He'll show off his over-the-head, two-handed shot on the air.

With Walker, Reebok is trying to repeat the successful formula used with its "Office Linebacker" ad character: an attention-getting TV ad that drives consumers to a Web site where they get additional films and can buy Reebok gear.

Tom Julian, trends analyst with Fallon Worldwide, says the use of more real people and kids in such promotions will become "commonplace" for networks and marketers. "I like the idea that it's real and about talent ? as long as they keep the talent focused in the right way," Julian says.

Reebok found Walker in a video his parents, Mark and LaShawn of Lee's Summit, Mo., sent to the company. Pant says the tape was so "hypnotizing" that he showed it on his laptop to players such as Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA All-Star Game. "It created an enormous buzz."

Mark's parents say they knew he had talent when he started hitting shots on a toy hoop at 16 months. "Our friends and family couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it," LaShawn says. But she stresses that for her son, "School is first, and sports and basketball are second."

What does Mark want to be when he grows up? "An astronaut. And a basketball player," he says, while slurping Jell-O.

Reebok is paying the family with a college trust fund for Mark, which might threaten his amateur standing to be a high school or college hoops star down the road.

"We checked it out with NCAA. We talked about it with Mark's parents," says Denise Kaigler, spokeswoman for Reebok. "The answer is nobody knows how this could affect his potential eligibility. Nobody knows what the rules will be like in 2018."

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Originally posted by carlsbadd

Hell, why not exploit kids, everyone else does.

One could be cynical and state that these companies have become good at exploting children - since their shoes and other merchandise is being made by kids in other countries :rolleyes:

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