Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury and Skechers saw it as an opportunity to take a dig at Nike. Williamson is a player with the basketball team Duke Blue Devils and during a game, his Nike shoes split. The incident happened on 20 February and Skechers was a fortnight late to the party. They put out an ad that was a play on Nike's iconic tagline 'Just Do It' accompanied by an image of a split sneaker.
Shortly after the incident, Nike issued a statement.
NIKE STATEMENT: "We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue."— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 21, 2019
Hours after the incident, Puma put out a tweet that was deleted shortly after.
Puma has deleted their tweet. pic.twitter.com/7pPitJ20zP— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 21, 2019
The tagline 'Just Do It' was coined for Nike in 1988 by advertising executive Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy agency. The tagline itself has morbid origins, with Wieden's supposed inspiration being Gary Gilmore. In 1976, Gilmore was the first person on Death Row in America for a decade. Gilmore's murders had no motive, and he insisted on his own execution. When he sat in the chair, his words were 'Let's Do It.' When Wiedman first pitched the tagline at a meeting, Nike's executives weren't too keen on the concept, but it went on to become a strong identifier for the brand for many years to come.
When Skechers ran the ad, it caught a few social media users off guard, with some lauding the brands efforts and the others suggesting that Skechers should slow down.
i usually wouldn't implore you to buy the paper for an ad, but you'll never see shade like [squints] skechers is throwing at nike on page 3 of tomorrow's nyt sports section again pic.twitter.com/wu9tQGacrf— Josh Crutchmer (@jcrutchmer) March 2, 2019
Nobody's gonna buy their goofy basketball shoes, but you KNOW the white dads soaking up The NY Times sports section today are getting a great chuckle before they lace up to go mow their dead lawns.— Zach Leffers (@ZachLeffers) March 3, 2019
The Skechers/New Balance/Nike Monarchs battle rages on. pic.twitter.com/UKwOvD4Pwh
Dead 😂😂😂 I'd wear 2 split Nikes before some Skechers. pic.twitter.com/KOPLjSXANS— HD Reed (@Hi_defff) March 3, 2019
Zion Williamson himself wasn't entirely quiet about it. He hosted an Instagram live video in which he played video games, in full Adidas gear. The brand logos were unmissable.
Zion goes live on Instagram, thought it was some announcement. Nope. Just playing video games IN FULL ADIDAS get up. pic.twitter.com/6pdPb3Of5K— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 6, 2019
What do you call Zion Williamson Instagramming live in an outfit with 12 adidas logos? Negotiations. pic.twitter.com/W5Ps76AUq5— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 6, 2019
This isn't the first time NBA players have had problems with merchandise. In 2017, ESPN has reported that the jersey of Cavaliers player LeBron James tore down the middle after it was grabbed by another player.
LeBron James' jersey is torn. 👀 pic.twitter.com/OS5xfm2Szz— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) October 18, 2017
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