SBD/Issue 245/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Nike To Modify Ad For WVU Jersey After Environmentalists Object

Environmental Activists Felt The Nike Ad
Endorses A Controversial Form Of Strip Mining

Nike said Thursday that it “will modify a graphic depicting a mountaintop removal mine” from an ad for West Virginia Univ.'s football uniform after “angry environmentalists objected" to the promotion, according to Vicki Smith of the AP. Nike said that its ad for WVU's black-and-white Pro Combat uniform was "designed to honor the heritage of coal mining and 29 men killed in the April explosion at Upper Big Branch mine.” Environmental activists, however, had a problem with the “depiction of a mountaintop removal mine behind the image of a player, complete with flat, treeless mountaintop, the sound of an explosion and the image of falling rock.” The activists argued that the ad “appeared to be a tacit endorsement of the controversial form of strip mining.” WVU athletic department officials, who reviewed the ad in advance, said in an e-mail, “The intent was for the player on the field to be surrounded by coal and not as an endorsement of any one form of mining technology." WVU will wear the coal-themed uniform just once this season, against Pittsburgh on Nov. 26 (AP, 9/2).

BLACKED OUT: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes Virginia Tech's football team for its season-opener against Boise State on Monday will "wear all-black uniforms" for the first time, "no doubt on Nike's money-on-a-stick orders." Virginia Tech's school colors are orange and maroon, but "such traditions can’t survive the combination of money-first TV and sneaker company demands and marketing blueprints." Mushnick notes uniform colors have been changed to "lure college recruits more concerned with what colors they wear than what they major in," and the "addition of all-black Nike Combat uniforms to Virginia Tech's wardrobe is particularly revolting" (N.Y. POST, 9/3).

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