Nike Pulls NFL Team T-shirt After Decorating Error
Nike is no stranger to controversy, but with its latest T-shirt design, the apparel company might have messed with the wrong demographic: NFL fans.
Last week, the company released to its online store a T-shirt featuring the logo of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, along with initials of the team's home state, superimposed over a state silhouette. The only problem? The silhouette was of South Carolina. The Panthers play in North Carolina.
Nike quickly removed the $32 shirt from its web store, but not before a Charlotte Observer reader noticed the mistake and reported it to columnist Scott Fowler. Since then, the design has made the rounds on the Internet, causing a minor uproar with incredulous Panthers fans. And while it's likely an honest mistake—the team is located in Charlotte, N.C., but goes by the name "Carolina Panthers"—it's an embarrassing error for a company that prides itself on T-shirt designs that "give voice to team pride, heroes, brands and cultural trends in an instant."
This isn't the first instance of a major gaffe in retail apparel decoration this year. In April, Adidas and the University of Louisville generated controversy when they released a T-shirt allegedly capitalizing on the gruesome injury of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware. In late June, online screen printer Solid Gold Bomb was forced to close its doors after an offensive shirt design available on Amazon.com drew heavy criticism from consumers, causing the company's sales to plummet.
Nike's mistake is far less serious—at least from an ethical standpoint—but it certainly underscores the need to proof artwork before a design goes to print.
And, maybe, to brush up on your geography.