As He Launches His Own Line
The oddest couple in image-making were sharing a display table at Da Silvano the other night. Adman Peter Arnell and former Interscope Records black-music chief Steve Stoute (the man beaned by Sean [Puff Diva] Combs with a bottle of bubbly) met when Arnell was hawking Ray-Bans, and the glasses were featured in the film "Men in Black." Stoute produced the movie's soundtrack. The pair of heavyweights (literally — both are hefty fellows) kept working together, then formed a company called PASS to formalize their collaboration. Now, Reebok, the sneaker-maker, is poised to profit big from their pairing.
Arnell and Stoute have been working with Reebok for more than a year, and are poised to make a splash. They've made rapper Jay-Z the first person outside sports to put his name on an athletic shoe — the S. Carter (Jay-Z's real name is Shawn Carter). They will be launched April 18 in a one-day laydown — just like a new CD. A limited-edition Jay-Z CD single will be a gift to the first buyers.
Expect the usual hip-hop hoopla — including violent, purple prose, because Stoute and Arnell are on a mission: "Our job is to destroy Nike," Arnell says of Reebok's competitor, "to kill both its market share and its credibility."
Reebok's given them a running start. It was recently reported that in the year ending September 2002, Reebok's shoe sales were up 10.4% against a 2.2% decline for the wounded but still market-leading Nike.
"Nelly is writing songs about our Air Force Ones, not Reebok," counters Nike's PR director. "If Reebok wants to imitate us, God bless 'em."