Nike CEO Mark Parker spoke to Fast Company after his company was named 2019 Design Company of the Year. The exclusive interview covered a myriad of topics, design being one of them. Most interestingly, though, the Nike CEO addressed the Betsy Ross Air Max 1 controversy.
Nike ultimately cancelled the release of the shoe, which featured a colonial-era, 13-star American flag on its heel. The shoe was supposed to be released on Independence Day and caused outrage among consumers and the media alike, due to the 13-star flag and its imagery having been co-opted by the alt-right.
When asked about the cancelled release Mark Parker spoke about social consequences, saying “[They’re] important, particularly in a world that’s become polarized in many ways, amplified by social media. It’s a more sensitive environment. So there are occasions when we’ve decided to pull our product and services from the market.”
As for the exact reason Nike pulled the sneaker, Parker explained, “The decision [regarding] that Air Max product was based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the Fourth of July holiday. That’s the reason we pulled it, not to create a source of polarization. We make those decisions, sometimes. They’re rare, but it does happen. We’re trying not to offend.”
Parker also spoke on Nike’s history of supporting inclusivity and athletes that embody the same values as the company, such as Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe.“There are values that are important to the brand and the company that we’re not going to shy away from,” said Parker. “We support the views of our employees, our athletes. And yeah, we will put a stake in the ground and take a stand.”
For the rest of the interview, head to Fast Company here.