SBD/Issue 206/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Dog Fighting Charges Force Nike's Hand In Vick Shoe Suspension

Nike Suspends Release Of Zoom Vick V
Shoe In Wake Of Dog Fighting Indictment
Nike has suspended the release of the Zoom Vick V in the wake of his federal indictment on dog fighting charges in Virginia. In a statement, the company said, “We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore, we have not terminated our relationship” (THE DAILY). Sports Executive Weekly Contributing Editor Matt Powell estimated that Nike “could expect to sell up to 200,000 pairs of Zoom Vick Vs, a fraction of the 225 million pairs of shoes it sells annually.” Powell: “In terms of the bottom line, it’s pretty meaningless” (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/20). CNBC.com’s Darren Rovell cited sources as saying that if the Vick V never comes out, Nike “will lose less than” $1.5M.  Less Vick training shoes are made than his cleats, “which are already on the market and will stay on the market” (CNBC.com, 7/19).

THE RIGHT MOVE? Sports Business Group President David Carter said the suspension of the shoe release “surprises me a little bit” because Nike “traditionally has stuck with troubled athletes.” Carter: “This is a pretty bold statement” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/20). But the WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Nicholas Casey writes Nike’s “tolerance of allegations against its athletes appeared to be wearing thin.”  In ’06, it suspended an endorsement deal with Justin Gatlin, a U.S. Olympic Gold-Medal winning sprinter accused of using performance-enhancing drugs (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/20).

Humane Society Says 130,000 
E-mail Messages Sent To Goodell
RIGHTS ACTIVISTS: While the Humane Society said that its e-mail campaign resulted in 130,000 messages being sent from its Web site to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “demanding Vick be suspended,” a similar campaign targeting Nike was delayed because the Web site “was overwhelmed by a doubling in traffic.” The Humane Society said that Nike “needed to go further and suspend its contract with Vick and remove Vick apparel from store shelves.” But Randall Lockwood, Senior VP/Anti-Cruelty Initiatives for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Nike’s action “is a good sign that they recognize that this has risen to a new level of seriousness” (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/20). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes that if any TV exec “believes activist groups that want Vick suspended are not going to put major pressure on them too, they are delusional.”  It would be “hard for animal-rights activists to affect broadcast coverage,” and “no one should expect them to refuse to televise a Falcons game.” But activists “could certainly make life uncomfortable for the broadcasters, and their advertisers, by urging a boycott of products sold by any company advertising on an NFL game” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/20).

OFF THE WALL: Fathead has removed the two Vick wall stickers it had for sale on its site as recently as Wednesday (THE DAILY). 

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