Ouch! When brands crash to earth.
This week Nike suffered a high profile wardrobe failure when the shoe of one of their star college athletes imploded mid-match, sending Zion Williamson tumbling, shortly after followed by the Nike share price.
A challenge for all high profile brands (and an advantage for start-ups and disruptors) is that the media and public alike feast-out on every failing. Anyone who produces a product for sale understands that product failure is a matter of when rather than if. At the same time social media has multiplied amplification of brand failures exponentially.
Williamson, a 206cm forward for the Duke Blue Devils is anticipated to be the top NBA draft pick later this year. Replays showed Williamson appearing to slip and fall to the court, where he clutched his knee in obvious pain. Close ups of his left sneaker show the sole and base had split apart. Williamson suffered a mild sprain to his right knee as a result of the incident and failed to return to the court for the rest of the game. The game was one of the most highly anticipated of the college season and was being telecast nationally by broadcaster ESPN.
Nike responded swiftly and publicly, promising to investigate the cause of the damage to their PG 2.5 shoe; “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery.” Nike said in a release. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
The immediate repercussions for Nike was a 1.1% drop of its share price to $US83.95, wiping $US1.2 billion off its market cap. However, barely 24 hours later Nike’s share price was back to it’s pre-incident value. Major brand incident averted.
Does this reflect the power of Nike’s brand to deflect negative sentiment (we wrote not to long ago about Nike’s 30th anniversary Colin Kaepernick ‘Just do it’ campaign), suggest Nike’s ‘promise to investigate and then let it dissipate’ approach is sound, or that the days of witch-hunting brands for every single failure are fading?
Most likely this is a little bit of all three – good news for anyone managing, building or creating brand greatness.
We wish Williamson a recover as complete and speedy and Nike’s share price.
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
For monthly updates of our thinking, click here to receive our free Brand Newsletter