Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Nike: A Strange and Terrbile Saga :: Company Business
Nike: A Strange and Terrbile Saga Image is a vital to the success of the giant international sports footwear and apparel corporation Nike. Endorsements by sports superstars like basketballer Michael Jordan, soccer maestro Eric Cantona and sprinting ace Cathy Freeman -- to name just a very few -- have made the company's "Swoosh" logo synonymous with "cool" for millions of young people worldwide. That image would be badly tarnished if it became widely known that the Nike empire is built on cheap Third World labour (including child labour), denial of trade union rights and collaboration with repressive regimes, most notably the Suharto regime in Indonesia. Nike Australia's public relations spokesperson, Megan Ryan, was coy about how much the company spends on marketing and sponsorship when Green Left Weekly spoke to her recently. She refused to disclose how much it pays top athletes to endorse its products. She said Nike sought to sponsor, and be endorsed by, the "best athletes possible" as a recognition of their achievements. The only image Nike sought from association with sports mega-heroes was to be recognised as an "authentic" sports brand. "Nike is not a fashion brand", she insisted. Perhaps Ryan hasn't stood on a city street corner, or in a suburban shopping centre, to see just how much Nike gear has become part of youth culture. This is in large part due to the "street cred" that comes from being associated with the likes of the larger-than-life Michael Jordan and the outrageous "dunk-punk" Dennis Rodman, US NBA basketball -- according to one poll, the most popular sport among Australian young people -- and, indirectly, African-American fashion and music. Okay, Ryan finally conceded, there is "some flow-through effect". In fact, more than 60% of Nike sales are to non-athletes. To achieve this "flow-through effect" Nike pays Jordan, the jewel in its endorsement crown, an estimated US$20 million a year to have a sandshoe named after him. In 1992, the company forked out $250 million on its advertising and promotion budget alone. Nike advertisements appear in magazines not noted for their sports content, such as Rolling Stone and the Source, the premier US hip hop magazine. Nike billboards have featured the Swoosh symbol painted by street graffiti artists, and flying basketballers letting loose with technical sports terms like: "I'm gonna dunk on your ass". And, of course, Nike has a home page on the World Wide Web where athletic Web surfers are urged to "hear Spike Lee talk about the Air Jordan XI, call 1-800-645-6031" (perhaps Spike jogs?