For most viewers, it was a touching moment to see Florida State University football coach Jimbo Fisher’s 9-year-old son run into his dad’s arms after the team beat Miami last November. For marketers at Nike, however, the scene that was broadcast on ABC, was appalling.
Ye gods! What was that unsightly symbol on young Ethan’s FSU sweatshirt?!
O, the horror! It’s the Under Armour logo!
Nike officials were so disturbed with the logo on the sweatshirt of Fisher’s son, who’s battling a rare genetic disease called Fanconi anemia, that they ended up emailing FSU administrators about it, the Wall Street Journal reports. Mark Dupes, Nike’s assistant director for football sports marketing, tapped out the typo-filled email on Nov. 2 (via WSJ):
“Hey got a text from the USA Director of Sports Marketing last night telling me of how good things look w FSU and our players and sideline staff, exposure for the Brand was exceptional. Then 5 min later I rec a new message…Said ABC cameras were on Jimbo and his Son ad end of the game…His son was Wearing Under Armour FSU sweatshirt! Ouch. Can we please ask Jimbo to eliminate that from the son’s wardrobe in the future! Let me know if I can help w anything. Thx guys. MD”
This is real life, guys, not an Onion article. Luckily, though, it seems as though FSU officials didn’t take Nike’s bizarre request seriously. Monk Bonasorte, FSU’s senior associate athletic director, told the Wall Street Journal:
“What am I going to do, go to coach and say, ‘Hey can you take that shirt off him?’ I’m not going to call Jimbo Fisher and tell him what his son can wear. … It was more just a joke to us.”
The Wall Street Journal discovered the email after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain several hundred emails having to do with FSU’s relationship with Nike. This email stood out from the rest.
When asked about the email, the Wall Street Journal reports Nike said the company’s “relationship is with the Florida State Department of Athletics and does not extend to their family members.” At least not anymore …