#justdoit

In rare support of Nike

Who could forget Nike’s political stunt in favour of the kneelers supporting BLM? Recall the millions it paid Colin Kaepernick to tell us about the bravery of those sacrificing everything if they believed in it. Social justice is a thang at Nike, at least among the marketing department. Naturally, it provoked a lot of anger from real Americans who served their country, some who paid for it with their lives. Taya Kyle, the war widow of legendary sniper Chris Kyle, wrote a stern letter to Nike which was on the mark.

Now some are taking Nike to task over the sponsorship contracts it holds with superstars, especially females. Nike does not appear to sacrifice everything, especially when it believes it.

Six-time track and field Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix penned an op-ed to The NY Times telling of the cold realities of re-contracting while considering having a child. Sadly the Nike contracting team is probably staffed with icy cold hard-nosed realists compared to the cuddly socially active marketing department.

33-yo Felix said Nike wanted to contract her 70% less after her pregnancy. She wanted the original value to stay in force even if she suffered slight underperformance in the months after childbirth. Her request is totally understandable. Surely Nike could have done some celebrity mother and child adverts to pluck at the heartstrings of the average person? Get all those mothers with newborns to sport a pair of Nike kicks and leotards as they push their strollers to yoga. Just the sort of mush that a marketing department craves.

High-end endorsements are extremely hard to get. The bigger the payout the higher the pressure and expectations thrust upon the star. Contracts are driven by athletic performance and the ability to drive sales off the back of it. These performance-based targets are likely to be written clearly in black and white. It sounds like Felix needed a much better sports agent to negotiate such clauses. Serena Williams had a child and her Nike endorsements rolled on unaffected. The tennis champ even narrated a “dream crazier” advert solely looking at women in sport.

Is Felix’s 70% haircut anything more than Nike’s endorsement team taking a view on her future performance when it comes to which brand ambassadors will keep driving sales? It must have made a judgement call that Felix was past her prime. If we looked at all the females sponsored by Nike, what rank is she within the long list of names? Usain Bolt hung up his golden boots at age 30.

It is unclear how many millions that Felix received from Nike every year. Sponsorship is slightly different from employment. There are lots of caveats in sports contracts which ensure that athletes behave responsibly “outside” the game to reflect the values of the organisation. One might feel some pity that the choice to have a child ruined her contract terms but Nike has not done anything illegal.

It is unlikely that any two Nike superstar endorsement contracts are the same. Michael Jordan ended up with his own brand within Nike. Undoubtedly he was paid better than an up and coming college NFL star. It is most likely that Serena Williams’ contract had many different term and conditions to Allyson Felix. If Felix signed her contract she took on all of the legalities within it, including the fine print. Unlike an employment contract, sponsorships terms can change on a whim.

The Nike sponsorship Rolodex is undoubtedly littered with stars – male and female – in their 30s, re-contracted at far lower rates than when they were in their prime. Felix wouldn’t be alone. Age, rather than maternity was probably the bigger driver for the Nike decision makers. The world of sports is brutal. Unless one is a Valentino Rossi of MotoGP fame, a Roger Federer/Serena Williams in tennis or an Usain Bolt in track & field, ongoing sponsorship tends to fade as these stars get put out to pasture.

Yet we are not Nike and we do not have the full facts of how it grants its limited marketing dollars. Perhaps we should ask why Adidas or Puma aren’t beating a path to Felix’s door to contract her and get some mileage out of the controversy? Nike knows the endorsement field probably better than most. The risk of her defection is minimal at best, therefore, Nike can drive hard bargains. Take it or leave it.

Those bloody racist Aussies

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Aussies. We love backing underdogs and relish in self-deprecating humour. Being put down in Australian culture is generally regarded as a compliment. Yet when we see bad behaviour, Aussies generally have no issues calling it as they see it.

We care little if we offend those perpetrating crimes. Take our national cricket team where several members were caught cheating in Sth Africa. The backlash was immense. We’d rather lose than cheat as a nation although it maybe the only solution left to wrest back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks after 16 years…..

Of course the satire of Mark Knight’s cartoon about Serena Williams’ temper tantrum got the activists riled up over supposed racist overtones. How quickly CBS made reference to a “white” cartoonist. If he’d been black and drawn the identical cartoon, would that have made it better? Why no complaints at all the other caricatures of Williams? That’s right – not a peep.

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That’s how the victim industry operates – find a narrative and then build concocted evidence to support it. Certain people might owe Knight a debt of gratitude.

Take this example. Author Leslie Honore   gladly used the viral nature of the cartoon to overtly plug her own book. This technically dilutes the nature of supposedly being 100% for the sisterhood in Serena’s corner, does it not? Makes for a great marketing tool though!! Surprised the author didn’t offer a free set of steak knives if bought within 20 minutes. True colours indeed.

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As for Aussies being racist, what will be evident when Naomi Osaka walks on court at the Australian Open in Round 1 is that everyone will cheer her. Not to apologise for the cartoon’s supposed misportrayal of her looks nor to make up for the appalling crowd display in New York but to honour a true bonafide sportswoman. We love everything about her. How could we not?

In all of the controversy surrounding the US Open final Naomi Osaka has oozed class with her sweet, bubbly but calm demeanor. Instead of apparatchiks demanding an open apology to Serena for sexism, equality and racism not once did any of them think to mention Osaka’s restraint or authenticity throughout the “me, me, me” nature of the saga. It was all about the champ! Williams’ prior tantrums were conveniently forgotten. Don’t forget Serena openly threatened Umpire Ramos that the thief would never be allowed again on ‘her court!’ So in that vein, Osaka was not an equal. She was privileged to stand across the net from the Queen.

Sure the racquet smasher with a coach who openly admitted he cheated is worthy of an apology. We should be proud to have the morals of such a role model drummed into kids. If little Johnny or Veronica don’t throw tantrums while representing their school we should put them straight in front of the counselor to work out why they haven’t been triggered. Don’t even start with the 9-yo brat refusing to stand for the Australian national anthem. Thanks Kaep!

If we judge the 23 grand slams and 10s of millions every year in endorsements and prize money for Serena , the global tennis apparatus has done a dismal job trying to beat her into submission if that is truly the claim. She’s got away with murder with her antics for years.

Throughout all Nike must have minted her name over the years as all these racists lined up to buy her clothes. Surprised the loonies haven’t called for cultural appropriation of white kids who wear Serena branded tennis clothing.

Maybe the lesson for Williams here is that playing against someone almost half her age that can blast 200km/h serves can teach her a thing or two about being a truly great champ in all aspects.

Poor old Naomi Osaka must be thinking the woman she once idolized is nothing like the person on the TV she thought she knew. Don’t worry Naomi, we wouldn’t want you to change anything about you!

Even if you don’t end up breaking all the records what better advocate for the game of tennis to have you as a global ambassador than a dummy spitting, venomous prima donna failing to cope with being dethroned. May there be many more kids who aspire to your level of maturity.

As an Aussie, CM speaks on behalf of many here who would openly say “we love you”. You can’t get here soon enough!

Nike & Colin Kaepernick

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Ultimately consumers will vote with their feet (no pun intended) after Nike’s use of original kneeler Colin Kaepernick as its latest “Just do it.” campaign face. Arguing over who is right or wrong over this has become somewhat irrelevant. The kneeling debate is over 12 months old.

Nike is free to market how it chooses but must bear full responsibility for the firestorm it creates for itself. There is no doubt the social media impact will be huge and the marketing department might wax lyrical at the attention gained all it wants but the question is will the majority of it be positive? Virtue signaling for corporates is a dangerous game. More often than not it backfires.

CM has always held that corporations should stay out of politics because as much as they might profess a united face on certain issues, there is no way they speak on behalf of all those that work for them. The risk is creating an unfair working environment to those who do not wish to participate in the manner the corporate desires, even if they might privately agree. Coercing staff to openly tow the party line is tantamount to making them slaves if forced against their will for fear of repercussions in the workplace.

Don’t think for a second it doesn’t happen. Think of the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. If you had a rainbow flag screen saver you would have been cheered by the internal apparatchiks. Had you a “Vote NO for SSM” screen saver it is likely you would have been hauled in front of your manager and HR to explain your inappropriate workplace behaviour. The matter was a vote of democracy. What place is it for corporates to enforce one type of opinion on changes to the Marriage Act? Let’s not forget the results of the 2011 Census where 0.03% of the population identified with being husband and wife in a same sex relationship. Yes. 1,338 people only. All that fanfare for less than 1,400 people.

We are already seeing people in the US burn Nike products to protest the company’s move.

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In much the same vein as Democrat Party activists boycotting In-N-Out burgers for donating to the GOP, there is no real sense in die-hard NFL fans pushing to #boycottNike. What is the obsession with boycotts? Surely disgruntled fans can make up their own minds whether they’ll choose to buy Nike products or not. It is just more of the oppression obsession.

Nike will ultimately survive. The NFL has already seen ratings take a proper beating. The question is does this help? Probably not but Nike want to make a statement.

Knee jerk reactions where people burn football jerseys, season tickets, Superbowl pennants or Nike sneakers have become less and less about the subject protested about (Black Lives Matter) but more about people getting sick and tired of political correctness and social justice rammed down their throats on an almost daily basis. Even Buzz Aldrin is sick of the politically correct overtones in ‘First Man’ that went out of its way to delete scenes of an epic moment in America’s history – planting an American flag on the moon. Don’t forget Buzz punched a reporter who disparaged him in public. He said he is a “proud American

Sadly, many Americans feel their patriotism is under fire. That they should feel guilty for displaying Old Glory outside their homes. Maybe those loyal fans want to go and watch a NFL match to leave the financial, relationship, work, marital stresses behind. They pay money to unwind, not have political messaging paraded in front of them. Even if they think Black Lives Matter is a worthy cause, kneeling every match won’t make it sink in any deeper but dilute the message, as has been displayed by making Kaepernick the poster child.

Not all NRA members are cold blooded murderers. Those people that voted Republican in the last election aren’t all white supremacist, bigoted, racist Nazis any more than all those people that voted Democrat aren’t all whining, virtue signaling liberals.

Open debate is what is needed. Kicking people out of restaurants through open harassment, burning runners or boycotting businesses won’t fix a thing. Listening and debating the issues based on logical reason is the only way forward.  The only thing worth boycotting is the boycotters themselves. Sadly the lesson is unlikely to be learnt.