Nike on Trial

| August 11, 2003

Marc Kasky probably won't be getting any lucrative endorsement deals with Nike. Indeed, it would take an ad campaign putting Lee Iacocca's to shame in order to put the company's shoes on this corporate ass-kicker's feet. As Jim Hightower explained in a recent column on Alternet, Kasky in 1998 brought suit in California against Nike claiming the 'Just Do It' company had gone too far when it took out full-page newspaper ads to fight off charges that it was a global abuser of sweatshop labor. But rather than denying the PR campaign was false, Nike's lawyers claimed the ads were not advertising at all, but political speech that under the first amendment need not be truthful. (Political speech need not be truthful? But what about when Bush said . . . ahh, now I see). The California Supreme Court sided with Kasky, ruling that the PR effort was meant to bolster Nike's image and improve sales, therefore qualifying as advertising, and ordering the suit to proceed to trial. Taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Nike argued that the lower court's ruling be overturned. But in June the Nine said Nein! And so the case goes to trial, and its outcome will have vast implications as a landmark for corporate speech.
-- Adam Overland

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