Snake-bitten Nike marketers chomped on again


Celebrity endorsements are one of the tried-and-true standbys in the world of advertising, but they do come with a certain amount of risk. No company can make stronger testimony to that fact than Nike, which just saw another in its stable embroiled in scandal.

The current scandal involves Oscar Pistorius, who endorses Nike products and now stands accused of murder in a case that is making global headlines.

According to The Daily Dog, Nike spends $800M annually on celebrity endorsments, and has run into this kind of thing before.

* Michael Vick served time in prison for a dog-fighting/gambling scandal
* Tiger Woods was embroiled in a very high-profile marital infidelity scandal
* Lance Armstrong is in the throes of a scandal involving doping during his time as a bicycle racing champion.

According to the article, Pistorius is not being used by Nike, and Armstrong has also been dropped. The company retains a relationship with Woods, however, and has started a new one with Vick since his return to the NFL.

RBR-TVBR observation: We have questioned the use of celebrities in the past. We refer specifically to NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. We have nothing against Mr. Manning, nor do we have any reason whatsoever to question his character.

Here’s the problem:

* In the case of this writer and millions upon millions of football fans, he plays for the other team, and therefore we want him not to succeed – we want him to get throw an interception. Nothing personal – but sack his Bronco butt!

* He has been placed in so many commercials, we never have the vaguest notion what he is selling. We saw him in a car just last night – was he advertising tires? Satellite radio? A GPS device? My wife told me he was in fact advertising the car. OK. What car, though? I don’t have the foggiest notion – in my case, it was a wasted impression.

At least in the case of Nike, it was using celebrities that actually have a use for its goods, but still – in my case again, I’ve bought numerous baseball gloves over the years, and many of them had an autograph from a major league on the palm. But the autograph never once influenced my purchase, even when I was young and impressionable. It was the fit of the glove, end of story.

So does the usefulness of the endorsement warrant the risk of scandal? We’re sure it probably does, but it is something to think about, and we think, use judiciously.