Nike – the gritty American underdog that took on the Establishment (adidas). Nike – the champion of the rebels and rules breakers. I love Nike, always have. I love their products and I love their marketing. But it looks like they missed and missed badly on a recent marathon held in San Francisco. You can read the details from the SF Chronicle and Half-Fast.
The gist is, 24-year-old Arien O’Connell won the race, but wasn’t registered in the ‘elite’ category. Now, when you read the stories, you’ll see that by some creative rules interpretations, the judges had some reason for not declaring O’Connell the winner. But from a PR perspective, that’s besides the point. Right now Nike looks like a big, corporate suit whose ‘follow the letter of the law’ stance is the exact opposite of what the company has stood for all these years.
I trust Nike will jump in here soon, but will they do it before this story catches fire? The best thing Nike can do right now, is put here in a Nike commercial, poking fun at Nike for being the very thing they’ve always fought against. Make O’Connell the hero. In fact, present her as the ‘wake up call’ that Nike needed. Thank her for providing that wake up call and announce you (Nike) are rededicating yourselves to once again being the champion of the gritty underdog.