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What should Nike do about the recent Zion Williamson Fiasco

Nike has been in deep trouble for the the past 2 days since the Zion Williamson shoe blow-out incident. For the uninitiated, here’s a link to the news.

Yup, this is probably how Nike executives feel right now

This is troublesome indeed and every marketer’s nightmare. Bad press takes the brand back a million years. But if you could turn it around, you might as well climb back stronger than ever.

Just depends upon how you deal with it.

In Nike’s case, I believe its an error that could happen to anyone. Out of millions of products, there is always a certain probability that a few products might go defective. Lets say 10 out of a million.

Out of those 10 defective ones, once a while a few might cross Quality Control without getting detected. It happens.

And imagine, how unlucky Nike was to have that particular defective unit that crossed all their Quality assurance and Quality control measures and reached the National Television screens, in the internet age.

Well, shit happens!

I feel sorry for those guys. Their marketing is great and I have never faced issues with their product.

But then what if I were in their “shoes”?

Its not foolproof plan, but I imagined myself in that situation and there are 2 fronts where I believe work needs to be done: Marketing and Quality control.

Here’s what I think I would have done on those two fronts.

Embrace humility and work on clearing the air

I believe, right now, Nike would be working on clearing the air and trying to maintain the confidence of the followers.

Nike still has millions of satisfied customers who have never had any issue in the past 3 decades. And, they have also had hundreds of sports persons across the world who use their equipment.

And people are usually smart and considerate. People understand things could go wrong at many levels.

If they have trusted a brand for as long as 3 decades or more, an event like this could never bring the trust down to zero just like that, unless the brand lies, or is dishonest with its consumers.

Three things that could be done to win consumer trust would be:

1. Launch a new reassuring campaign

I believe Nike should be working on a campaign to reassure the customers of its sincerity and commitment towards bringing the best out of athletes. This is a time the brand must embrace humility and introspection and make it known to people.

Reinforce the purpose of Nike’s existence. Many people connect to it and get motivated by it to strive to be better.

2. Get trusted celebrities to vouch for you

Nike should work on getting endorsements by trustworthy celebrities who the masses look up to.

Use the national television and social media to tell the masses that the celebrities still trust Nike and would continue using the brand in their games. It should be emphasized that they have been doing so for so many years, one incident does not warrant a change like this.

Probably, the best guy here would be Zion Williamson, since he is at the center stage. It would be great if he could come back and reassure that he trusts Nike.

3. Launch consumer experience centers

Nothing works like personal experiences. Nike should work on below the line activities to reach to consumers in key locations and give them the experience to assure them of their quality and comfort.

This could be activations in Malls, their stores, high footfall areas or even in game shows on televisions.

Transform Nike Stores into Experience centers

Go back home and reinforce the quality measures

Apart from marketing to the consumer, Nike has to go back home and do some serious investigation on how a blow out like this could have happened.

There are two things here too: Quality assurance wherein you would ensure any loopholes in the process would itself get fixed and errors go down in numbers.

Secondly, build stronger Quality control measures so that even if there are errors, they get detected at the end.


Strong brands do come back, despite debacles. This mishap took down Nike’s shares a bit.

I don’t do much investments, and I am not an expert. But if I did invest, then I would probably bet my money on Nike shares now. I believe it will bounce back.

But please note this is, by no means, my advice to you. I am just saying, this could be turned around and the brand could get stronger.

It would be interested to see how Nike team deals with it. We would be watching how things unfold and posting here.

If you have anything to say, please feel free to drop your comments below.

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