Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nike Needs to Rethink Endorsements

I've never quite understood why endorsements are given as a sense of entitlement to athletes instead of a reward. Secondly, I've never understood why a company would choose to endorse athletes with no class or character. While major corporations carefully choose spokespeople that will represent the company well, it seems sports companies just go after the ones that will bring in the most money. Let me present three cases, all involving Nike endorsees: Kobe Bryant, Michelle Wie, and Michael Vick.

-Kobe Bryant
If you have forgotten the Kobe Bryant rape case from 2 years ago, then Nike is smiling now from cheek to cheek. With heat being put on Nike for endorsing a man accused of rape, they pulled all Kobe Bryant Nike ads. However; the second Kobe's trial was over shoes and merchandise were being manufactured as fast as bunnies. Kobe is once again the poster child for Nike basketball. Is it a matter of Nike wanting to endorse athletes with character, or wanting to endorse the athlete that will make them the most money? Obviously it is the latter.

-Michelle Wie
Before she even played in a major event, before she even graduated from high school, and before she ever quit......I mean "withdrew" from a tournament with soreness in her wrist, Nike had signed Michelle Wie to a multi-million dollar endorsement. Their thinking is that this girl would be the Tiger Woods of the LPGA. Boy oh boy were they wrong. Not only has Wie not played a single weekend on any PGA tour events; but also she has not even finished in the top 10 in a single LPGA event. This is a classic case of an athlete given an entitlement endorsement rather than a reward endorsement. I hope Nike is regretting signing this young lady, as they should. (Have you ever heard of Morgan Pressel? She's younger and has WON an LPGA tournament)

-Michael Vick
If you had millions of dollars, what would you do? I'd probably spend more time golfing, buy a nice car, and add to my movie collection. Michael Vick, on the other hand, buys houses for his friends, lots of dogs, and trains those dogs to fight and kill each other! And when the dogs don't finish the job, good ol' Michael does it for them in cruel and unusual ways! Damn, I want to buy that guys' Nike shoes. He redefines the old Gatorade tagline, "I want to be like Mike." Before Vick had been indicted on the recent dog fighting allegations, he had already been detained at an airport for suspected drug possession and told a few Atlanta Falcons they were #1 with Mr. Tallman (you know? The centermost finger on his hand......) With all this surrounding Nike's top football endorsee, they finally decided to pull their Michael Vick shoes. So much for signing people with character, how much you want to bet that the shoes are on the shelves within days of Vick being let off the hook? I hope I'm wrong on this one, I really do.

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