Are Nike really a force for the good?

Are Nike the world’s most sociopathic marketer? No, this is not another polemic on sweated labour in underdeveloped economies. The charge-sheet for that would be almost endless, and Nike are in no way a distinctive offender, just a prominent one.

What we have in mind here is an interesting round-up piece by Thom Forbes of Mediapost. In it Thom juxtaposes three apparently unlinked themes:

1. Nike are about to launch to launch LeBron X, a shoe that measures how high you can jump. And you’ll have to jump very high for these, because the retail price is expected to be an astonishing $315 a pair.

2. Nike are having to curtail the violence that has marred some of its product launches, by banning retailers from releasing photos or other descriptions of the up-and-comings ahead of launch day. Sounds responsible, but who’s creating the aspirational competition in the first place? Maybe they should think of slashing their prices (see above item).

3. AdAge has profiled Martin Lotti, Nike’s so-called global director for the Olympics. A bit of an oxymoron this title, since Nike are the world’s most notorious ambush marketer. And very good it is at it, running rings round official sponsor Adidas. “Nike’s move was really clever,” gushes Kent Grayson, professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “They used marketing assets that belonged to them alone, and those assets gave them a pretty unique opportunity to take advantage of the Olympic rules.” Shouldn’t that be “a pretty unique opportunity to bend the Olympic rules”, Kent?

For more depth on these musings, here’s Thom himself.

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