Somehow I suspect, and come on if you're awake, you suspect too that Nike® 's decision to hold off on their newest Michael Vick shoe had less to do with due process and waiting for the court to decide the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's guilt or innocence on dogfighting charges than it did with corporate profits.
Their decision came, no doubt, after the statisticians in strategic planning counted their magic beans and decided they weren't gaining as much in street-cred as they were losing in customer good will.
This is a company after all that featured a brief hint of dog fighting in a commercial a few years ago just to show how tough they are. In a terse e-mail to Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle Nike stated they pulled it only because it ran its course, not because animal welfare groups voiced dismay. Ms. Knapp noted:
"At a time when one of its star endorsers is accused of viciously abusing animals for thrills and profit, Nike probably should have hinted at some level of sensitivity on the subject. "
The response at the very least makes their statement that "we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent" seem disingenuous.
Regardless of what courts rule on Vick's guilt or innocence, Nike has shown just how skewed its moral center is and how reprehensible its marketing and advertising can be.
They are happy to be associated with exploitation of the most vile and inhumane kind if it's making them look like tough guys.
I bought new running shoes a while back and they weren't Nike's, though I'd had Nike cross trainers for a while. The ASICS® running shoes just felt more comfortable in the walking-around-the-athletic-store test.
Brand will play a bigger role for me in the future. I'm sacking Nike. I'm kicking Nike, that is I ain't buying them no more.
I'm not their target audience--I'm gradually aging out of just about every marketer's desirable range except maybe Metamucil's--but perhaps I'm not the only one who'll be giving my $80 to someone else the next time I'm in the market for an athletic shoe.
Michael Vick's guilt or innocence is indeed for the court's to decide, the presumption of innocence his rightful due, but Nike's trial is in the court of public opinion and it's time to bang the gavel and render the verdict.
In my mind as a consumer, they're convicted.
Los Angeles Times Nike Sacks Vick