It seems that the Nike team has been working to ensure what could have been a small PR issue turns into a frontpage disaster story. Earlier in July, Nike confiscated videotapes recorded showing NBA allstar LeBron James, being dunked by amateur player Jordan Crawford.
The event took place at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, OH where 2 accredited journalists filmed Jordan Crawford scoring an easy basket while LeBron James was playing defence.
The low quality camcorder footage which does not clearly identify players did not make for any interesting news until Nike demanded the tapes on the grounds that it violated media guidelines which does not allow filming of the skills academy games.
What happened at this point was that internet phenomenon of the Streisand effect took over causing the information to be so widely publicised that it becomes an YouTube sensation. As with the 2003 request by Barbara Streisand to remove aerial photographs of her beach house made a fuss of what is a small issue, but highlighting the issue as one worthy of news coverage.
What turns this into a very bad public relations exercises for Nike is that they appeared to be more concerned with trying to sell LeBron James as the next very brand-able star. This money earner for Nike needs to always look good, so the possible humiliation or at least humbling of LeBron James may not sit well with their future revenue plans.
To ensure that this matter did not get shown by the broadcast partner CBS, Nike demanded all tapes of the event, creating instant interest in what happened. Even if this had been the most boring event ever filmed the fact that the heavy handed approach showed that maybe people were missing out on something great and the interest started.
With such interest it is only a matter of time before a video made its way to YouTube, but it did take up to 2 weeks for the crew at TMZ to get it their hands on it, you can watch it here.
Also recently the Nike guys have bowed to the millions of viewers who have already seen the video and given back the tapes, but not before they ensured they got as much bad press over the issue as possible. Judging by previous viral video events this matter will continue to hurt Nike’s image of being a supporter of up and coming talent if they dare challenge their existing cash cows…
You can hear Jordan Crawford’s interview response about the video here, it is just a short 30 second interview.