May 21, 2006

Nike rip off logo from London’s poor borough

Witnessing good old-fashioned hypocrisy is a terrific means of getting the juices of righteous indignation flowing. Hypocrisy is compulsory behaviour for politicians but is slightly harder to stomach when big business squeals like a spoilt child when it thinks it’s being wronged, and then quietly turns around and does the very thing it was condemning.
And so we have Nike, quick to zap Olympian lightning at any sign of hubris against its brand.
Hackney is one of London’s poorest boroughs. Hardly awash with cash, it does nevertheless host a strong icon of the British working class: Hackney Marshes. It’s here, at any of its seemingly uncountable football (soccer) pitches that you can watch teams of pub louts, Cockney office boys and ‘ahs-yer farver roughnecks kicking seven shades of shit out of each other most Sunday mornings.
It was here that Nike set one of its best ever TV ads in 1997, when they filmed a collection of the big English premier league stars mixing it with the Sunday league riff-raff, gawd bless ‘em.

It was a superb piece of advertising by agency TBWA Simons Palmer – gritty, exciting, funny, and with the perfect music soundtrack from Blur – from an American brand that is associated with a multitude of sports; it needed to muscle in on territory dominated by the likes of Adidas and Umbro, who have traditionally had much closer ties with football.
Apparently without shame it appears that Nike have ripped of Hackney council’s own icon and emblazoned it on their own shirts. Not a close copy, mind, but the very logo itself.
In true British socialist style, the council is asking for reparations, to be ploughed back into developing sports for Hackney’s young. The mayor also wants “assurances from Nike that all this kit has been ethically produced”, gawd bless ‘im.
Witness Hackney council’s anger here.

Update (September 2006): Nike did it. Lost it.
See also: More jolly logo japes in London

Tags: Sponsorship / PR; Politics

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