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Monday, September 18, 2000
NBC axes Nike's Olympic horror movie ad

 PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- NBC pulled one of Nike's commercials from the network's Olympic advertising lineup -- a parody of a slasher movie in which a woman is pursued by a masked man with a chain saw.

 The network accepted the ad, featuring distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton, "subject to audience complaint" and received thousands of critical phone calls and e-mails, NBC said Monday.

 "Due to adverse audience reaction we pulled the ad early this morning," spokeswoman Maria Battaglia said from NBC headquarters in New York.

 Charles Denson, vice president of the athletic shoe giant, was disappointed in the network's response.

 "I guess we felt it was a little ironic," he said. "They (NBC) preapproved the ad before it ran in the Olympic spot."

 But Battaglia said conditional approval of ads is "standard practice for something that may have borderline material."

 The ad begins with Hamilton spotting a man in a hockey mask, much like the "Jason" character from the "Friday the 13th" movies, preparing to attack her with a chain saw.

 Hamilton runs off and keeps up such a strong pace the masked attacker collapses, wheezing exhaustion. The tag line of the ad says: "Why sport? You'll live longer."

 The ad drew laughs from the crowd at the annual shareholder meeting in Portland on Monday, along with a second ad featuring Olympic cyclist Lance Armstrong using mouth-to-trunk resuscitation to revive a circus elephant.

 The answer to the question, "Why sport?" in the Armstrong ad is "Healthy lungs."

 Earlier at the shareholder meeting, before it was learned the ad had been pulled, Denson responded to an audience question asking whether the ad might be seen as encouraging violence toward women.

 He said it was simply intended as a parody and Hamilton had fun filming the ad.

 "We have a history of making controversial ads," Denson said. "And we certainly have succeeded in that."

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