Further to my previous posts about Michael Vick and Nike, one in which I reported that Nike had signed Vick as an endorser and the other in which Nike denied any contract with Vick, I have now confirmed Nike’s original response, based on multiple newspaper reports plus a direct e-mail from Nike in reply to a direct question.
Nike has not signed an endorsement contract with Vick. They have, however, supplied him with free product.
In my opinion, there is one business reason and one business reason only for Nike to provide Vick with their brand name apparel and that’s in the hopes that he will wear it publicly, particularly on television.
So, they have not signed a contract with him, but they are still willing to use his famous (or infamous) position to market their product. They MUST be aware that, due to Vick’s notoriety and the controversy surrounding his return to the NFL, more TV cameras than ever will be focused on him. Every move on (and off) the field, every word that comes out of his mouth, every press conference will have that SWOOSH emblazoned on his shirt or his hat or his shoes.
That’s BETTER than an endorsement contract. It’s FREE! And, as an added bonus, they can conveniently deny any “contractual relationship” with Vick, thus pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone who isn’t willing to dig a little deeper than that one glib sentence issued by Nike’s public relations department.
For the record, this is Nike’s reply to a direct e-mail:
“Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick. We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike.”
This is the exact wording attributed to Nike in the earlier ESPN newspaper article, despite unequivocal claims by Michael Principe, the managing director of the agency representing Vick and by Joel Segal, Vick’s agent, that an actual deal had been struck between the player and the sportswear company.
Personally, I think the agents spoke too soon and Nike backed off with this feeble excuse of “supplying product”.
Even if Nike is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the fact remains that they are using Vick to promote their products. That fact is undeniable and, in my opinion, shows that the company is willing to whitewash Vick’s prior behaviour in the name of the almighty dollar.
Therefore, I (and almost every other dog owner to whom I have spoken since yesterday) will no longer be purchasing ANY Nike product. Most dog owners are also getting rid of their existing Nike product as well, but I thought that, since I manage a dog kennel, I’ll keep their sweatshirts to use when I’m cleaning up dog poop.
That would be highly appropriate.