Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shamrocks and Urdu

I'm a Pakistani born son of Irish immigrants. I wonder what shoe Nike will design for me?

Why do I ponder this absurd idea? Because absurdity knows no bounds. Today's New York Times reports of the flak Nike is receiving over the shoe it designed for Native Americans. From a functional standpoint, Nike designed a special shoe tailored to the wider feet of many Native Americans. That's good. And we must give Nike props for investing the profits from this shoe back into its Let Me Play initiative on Native American lands. That's excellent. But perhaps Nike should have put its pencil down at that point. Because in addition to its Swoosh, Nike chose to adorn the Nike Air Native N7 with subtle cues of feathers and arrowheads. Bloggers are having a field day with this (my favorite coming from The Portland Mercury). So I will patiently await my Nikes decorated with shamrocks and "just do it" written in Urdu.

2 comments:

Jennifer Beindorf said...

This example of the Nike shoe designed for Native Americans reminds me of Ford's Product Development Initiative in the late 1990s: Designing a vehicle targeted to Women. The concept vehicle was painted a light lavender color (since everyone knows all women love that color) and some of the interior features included a built-in cooler between the seats for children's food (I prefer to think of it as the ultimate tail-gating cooler) and finally there was a mini built-in washer/dryer in the back of the vehicle. The ULTIMATE car for women...so you never have to leave your house work behind!

David Murphy said...

Too many marketers miss the mark simply because they try too hard and end up stereotyping or coming across as, well, marketers. American Airlines received flak earlier this year for launching a special website dedicated to female business travelers. It incurred the wrath of many female customers, not for its intent, but for doling out condescending advice ("always pack a little black dress...") and the ill-advised use of a lavender hue to decorate the site. To American's credit it quickly responded to the feedback and upgraded the content (and got rid of the lavender).