2/15/2013 4:56 PM ET|
Is Nike's advertising cursed?
The athletic shoe maker is pulling an ad featuring Olympic runner and alleged murderer Oscar Pistorius. The company seems to have terrible luck with athletes.
Nike (NKE) can't catch a break with its athletic sponsorships. Each year seems to bring scandal to its roster of sponsored athletes, including Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong.
Now another Nike-sponsored athlete has fallen from grace: Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African runner who on Thursday was charged with murdering his 30-year-old girlfriend. She died of gunshot wounds.
Nike yanked an ad on Thursday that featured the runner in a green and black bodysuit while running on his prosthetics, according to Advertising Age. The ad bears the unfortunate tagline, "I am the bullet in the chamber."
The ad's copy has a chilling and unintended resonance after the death of Pistorius' girlfriend, especially given that the runner is charged with firing the gun. Pistorius is a gun enthusiast, according to The New York Times.
"Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident," the company said in a statement following Pistorius' arrest. "As it is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time."
It's not the first time Nike's ads featuring a onetime sports hero have taken on unfortunate overtones after a scandal.
Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, made this ad for Nike in 2001. Armstrong asks viewers, "Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?"
Apparently, the rest of us were riding on the presumption that we could believe Armstrong, who told Winfrey last month that he in fact was using drugs at the time the ad was taped, from the late 1990s into the early 2000s.
Nike pulled its sponsorship of Armstrong in October after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency detailed allegations about his usage of performance-enhancing drugs.
Tiger Woods also proved controversial for Nike. After the golfer admitted cheating on his wife, Nike decided to stick with Woods. The difference? Woods achieved his athletic success without cheating, while Armstrong resorted to drugs, notes SBNation.com.
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