When recent news broke of the shooting scandal with Oscar Pistorius there was the legal debate – and then was the branding debate. Would his actions tarnish Nike’s brand? Does Nike pick the wrong athletes to endorse or do they just have bad luck?
Well as AdWeek so smartly pointed, Nike’s endorsement bad luck is really a numbers game. This company has contracts with an overwhelming number of professional athletes with considerable influence over consumers. So when one of these contracted athletes is involved in a scandal, percentages say there’s a pretty good chance he or she will be a Nike endorser (see Michael Vick, Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods).
Consumers don’t blame Nike for Oscar Pistorius shooting his girlfriend or Tiger’s transgressions for that matter. What they do expect is that the company does the right thing once a scandal happens and handles its crisis communication the best way possible. Nike usually does take action quickly, as it has done with other scandal-stricken athletes. The public sees those moves as the right thing to do. Nike recognizes that and so do most smart marketers. And that’s not necessarily branding acumen. It’s just common sense.