Nike on Trial

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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