Nike Corporation and Athlete Endorsements

By George Foster, David Hoyt
2003 | Case No. SPM3
In April 2002, the largest newspaper in Melbourne, Australia published a cover story, filling 7 full pages, announcing that Wayne Carey, the premier player in Australian-rules football was having an affair with a teammate’s wife. The player was one of Nike Corporation’s most important paid endorsers in Australia. Nike had built its business in large part by cultivating relationships with athlete endorsers. However, there were many potential problems with athlete endorsers, including: illegal behavior, legal behavior that cast the athlete in an unfavorable light (such as the case of Carey, conflicts with other companies that endorsed the athlete (such as creating marketing campaigns that used different images of the athlete), illness or career-threatening injury, and third-party organizations that tried to use or pressure the athlete to further their own political agendas. The case describes Nike’s relationship with its athlete endorsers, potential problems, and gives a series of short vignettes illustrating these problems.
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