Nike is known for having a lingering PR headache. With oversea child sweatshops and troubled sponsored athletes, I can only imagine Nike’s PR team is on overdrive most of the time. This weekend was no exception. On Sunday I ran in the Nike Women’s Marathon down in San Francisco. 30,000 people (majority women) gathered at Union Square at 6:30 in the morning to run the foggy streets of San Francisco. Every element of Nike was perfect to a T – from the limited edition marathon shoes, to the Nike signage throughout the course, to the finisher necklace from Tiffany & Co. There were no complaints from me, except maybe to lighten up on all of the hills! But for those who had complaints were in for a surprise. With music blaring at 5:30a.m. throughout the course, roads blocked surrounding the 26.2 mile course and the extra 60,000+ people in the city, it’s no surprise there were a few complaints filed.
Wrong number, please try again
Residents and runners who wished to file a complaint from the weekend’s festivities were instructed to call 800-RUN-NIKE. Unfortunately, when disgruntled callers tried to reach that number, they were greeted by a sultry voice and charged $2.99 per minute. The city had inadvertently given out a phone sex line, as opposed to the Nike line, which was actually 866-RUN-NIKE.
While this may not be as severe as some of the PR blunders Nike has endured throughout the years, it definitely does not sit well with the citizens of San Francisco. Was this a complete accident or a clever move made by a disgruntled intern? Whatever it was, it’s holds a couple of good lessons for PR professionals. First off, Nike’s lack of official comment toward this mishap has left more people upset and wondering how the error occurred. Second, it is important to triple check all phone numbers you supply your press and consumers – that includes on websites, in emails and through 3-1-1. At the end of the day, it brings a whole new meaning to ‘Just do it!’