No Dunk Here: Nike Confiscates Tapes of Lebron James

I consider myself a pretty big sports fan, so when I heard of the recent story circulating that Nike confiscated the recordings of Xavier basketball player Jordan Crawford putting a vicious dunk on Lebron James during a pickup game to possibly protect their branding machine, I saw I nice tie in with Web 2.0 and branding.

PR black eyes such as these aren’t new, but with Nike I was somewhat surprised. The company has become one of the premier benchmarks in defining and maintaining a brand, from its “Just Do It” punch line to its interactive website. As part of that, athletes have become a focal point of these initiatives, with Lebron James being one of their biggest.

But confiscating a set of tapes to protect the image one of their cash cows seems over the top, and more importantly, has now become fodder for mass consumers and the Internet. What was a piece of footage that would have otherwise been an amusing moment lost in time had it been seen in the first place is now taking on mystical proporations, with all sorts of reverberations across the Internet by the very consumers Nike is looking to target via that very medium.

Will Nike experience a drop in sales thanks to this? I seriously doubt it. But in a day and age where cultural associations with particular brands and celebrities/athletes run as deep as they do, the kickback from actions such as these via consumer-generated content and commentary has to be respected, which in this case, it seems Nike misjudged.

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