World of Sport

Nike T-shirts face anti-drugs backlash

World of Sport

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Sports brand
Nike has been criticised for replacing their 'Just Do It' slogan with
controversial alternatives.

The new
words have angered an Oregon antidrug group, who have condemned their
provocative replacements.

'Dope',
'Get High' and 'Ride Pipe' are just three slogans Nike have used on their
T-shirts, claiming that the language fits in with a target market of skaters,
snowboarders and those who take part in extreme sports.

But Oregon
Partnership spokesman Tom Parker said the double-meanings were unacceptable.

"It's gone past edgy," Parker
said. "Sure it is the language of skateboarders and surfers, but it's also
the language of addicts."

Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino, called on
a Niketown shop manager in the city to remove the shirts from display,
suggesting that they were "out of keeping" with the character of the
area.

Nike distanced themselves from any kind
of association with drug culture.

"Sport is an antidote to
drugs," Nike spokeswoman Erin Dobson said in a statement. "There is
no better adrenalin rush than catching a wave or landing a trick. The language
is the same that skaters, BMXers and surfers use every day around the world."

Oregon
Partnership have condemned the T-shirts in a letter sent to 1,500 people, amongst
whom were The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

But several
market experts were tipping the controversy as potentially being good for
business.

"I don't think it's necessarily a
bad thing," said Paul Swanguard, managing director of the University of
Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. "It's not an overt attempt to
offend but it is an overt attempt to connect, which is what Nike has always done
well."

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