The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based brand has taken out an advertisement in print and online that calls out Nike in light of the Zion Williamson shoe explosion incident that occurred during the Duke-UNC game on Feb. 20. Williamson’s shoe fell apart on the court, leaving the freshman with a minor injury and an unusable pair of sneakers.
“Just blew it,” the top copy of the ad reads, showing an image of broken kicks. In smaller text underneath the Skechers logo, it says: “We won’t split on you.”
The comfort shoes brand has placed the ad in multiple national newspapers, including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. New York Times design editor Josh Crutchmer revealed on Instagram that it will appear on page 3 of the Times’ sports section tomorrow. Eagle-eyed Instagram users have also spotted it on their feeds.
Skechers isn’t the first Nike rival to publicly address the incident. The Puma Hoops account tweeted about it the night of, writing: “Wouldn’t have happened in the Pumas.” However, the German sportswear company generated negative attention for the post, which it subsequently deleted.
With Williamson as the projected No. 1 draft pick — and with the injury coming during a major matchup attended by President Barack Obama himself — the sneaker breakage garnered national attention aplenty, so it comes as no surprise that other sneaker brands took note.
The negative press led to a quick 1 or 2 point drop in Nike shares, but NPD Group Inc. senior sports industry analyst Matt Powell says the blown-out shoe is just a drop in the bucket for the Swoosh.
“There have been instances over the years when a shoe [simply] failed — in similar kinds of circumstances. This is one shoe, and Nike makes hundreds of millions of pairs of shoes. Even if the whole line failed — and that’s happened before — things happen in manufacturing. Not every product performs like it’s expected to,” he explained.
In a national poll out of Seton Hall University this week, two-thirds of respondents said they felt the sneaker breakage was just a one-time fluke. But about 20 percent of those surveyed felt differently, responding that they felt the explosion was indicative of the brand’s quality.
FN has reached out to both Skechers and Nike for comment.
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