American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has won back-to-back Tour de France races, has broken ranks with striking actors by shooting a non-union ad for apparel giant Nike.
Before winning the Tour, Armstrong had pledged he would not defy the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists during their strike (Daily Variety, July 20). But ad agency Wieden & Kennedy confirmed Armstrong had shot a Nike spot last month in Hungary without using a union-approved interim agreement.
The ad will debut this weekend during NBC telecasts of the Olympic Games. An agency rep noted that the unions do not have jurisdiction over shooting overseas, but SAG’s position has been that such spots represent struck work because they are intended for broadcast in the domestic market.
Two months ago, Tiger Woods’ reps had contended the golfer was not actually breaking the strike when he went to Canada to tape a Buick spot, but SAG responded by issuing a strongly worded criticism and announcing he could face fines, suspension and expulsion. A trial board scheduled for last month for that purpose was delayed.
The ad agency also disclosed that it handled an upcoming Nike spot for U.S. Olympic distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton that was shot without an interim agreement. U.S. Olympic sprinters Michael Johnson and Marion Jones shot non-union Nike spots earlier in the strike.
Pro football players Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, John Lynch and Keyshawn Johnson have performed non-union work, as did basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who later apologized and issued a statement of support to the unions.