Friday, August 29, 2008


A month ago as discussed throughout the blogosphere (here included), Nike pulled ads were considered homophopic by the Human Rights Coalition. Though you'll still catch some the ads in some bus canopies and phone booths, the sneaker behemouth felt that keeping the campaign going was not worth another public relations nightmare as international labor law controversy still brews.

Now, their Converse division had to go even further by pulling actual product.

As reported today, the brand of Chuck Taylor and Dr. J decided to take these sneakers off of the shelves because of an investigation by Baltimore's ABC affiliate station.


These sneakers come in only two colors (red and blue) and adorn bandanas. The investigation tipped its hand in saying that the sneakers were targeted towards gang members, most notably the Bloods and Crips.

Converse might as well have painted a red-and-blue target on their headquarters.

It's very easy to call this an overreaction by the company; an action thatcould not only hurts the bottom line for a brief moment, but shows that "professional offenders" wield an extraordinary power and can pick off anyone at will. Whether it's an organization or in this case, a media outlet, if someone has a pressing issue that resonates with a significant group of people along with a loud enough voice, they can force an actual change in Corporate America.

That said, a few people in the design, marketing, research & development and public relations departments must have thought that no one would have made the connection. While it's hard to really believe that a shoe company would overtly target groups of illegal activity to pedal some kicks, to come to this point means that they underestimated the issues of gang activity in many communities and the marketing awareness of consumers. After all, despite the fact that these sneakers were intended to be 'feminine and playful', rolling out two styles in these colors - for better or worse - will set off the minds of concerned parents whose kids are at least in plain view of these gangs.

Maybe they should swap emails with executives at New Era and Major League Baseball as they have been dealing with a similar issue: various gangs adopting sports insignia and/or wearing certain color caps to rep their sets.

Or maybe out of spite, they'll end up creating entire outfits tailor-made for gangbangers.

No comments: