Nike Ad


Nike made a huge judgement error when it ran an offensive ad in “Backpacker” magazine a few months ago. The ad suggested that its trail running shoe could help prevent a spinal cord injury that would “[render] me a drooling, misshapen non-extreme-trail-running husk of my former self, forced to roam the earth in a motorized wheelchair with my name, embossed on one of those cute little license plates you get at carnivals or state fairs, fastened to the back.”

After an understandably furious onslaught of responses from the disability community, Nike released an official apology, stating, “Purely and simply, we made a mistake.” However, Nike put its foot in it again when its Director of Communications, Lee Weinstein, went on to assert that “a former Nike president, Bob Woodell, suffered a spinal cord injury and is confined to a wheelchair, and we have a Disabled Employee Network.”

Bob Vogel of New called Nike’s apology “worse than the offense,” writing that “if Nike truly has such a strong ’disabled employee network,’ then Mr. Weinstein should have known better” than to use such poor word choices. He also wondered what the point of that statement was. “It’s like Nike is saying, ’Sorry about the ad, but, you know, we hire people with disabilities so it’s not as bad as it appears.’ This rings as hollow as someone telling a racist joke, then saying, ’But I have a friend who is an African American.’” Nike’s online apology was revised a few days later.


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