Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nike, Inc.

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Nike are a company that hardly need any introduction, since their inception into the footwear market many years ago they have been one of the most recognizable faces in sports footwear and apparel. Their empire operates on six continents, and their suppliers, shippers, retailers and service providers employ close to 1 million people

As Nikki explained earlier, Nike are a company that purport to use cause related marketing effectively for profit as well as expressing their social consciousness. Their website displays quite clearly that while they are a large profit organization they are also aware of their role as a responsible employer and member of the global community which they are a part of. They have identified causes that greatly benefit from Nike’s involvement or that Nike its self have actually implemented.

The first cause they are a part of is “Developing and investing in innovative solutions to the challenges of globalization faced by women and girls.” This cause is aimed at helping under developed countries where Nike has manufacturing factories and employees. They have helped this cause greatly by affiliating themselves with various organizations such as the Population Development and Community Association, Opportunity International, and the Vietnamese Women’s Union. In association with these organizations Nike funds micro-loans to Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Loans have reached more than 10,000 the majority or them are female borrowers in all countries. With the assistance of these loans many rural women and former workers of Nike have created small business and some business owners are returning to expand their business with second and third loans.

Nike has also implemented an education initiative to provide opportunities for contract factory workers to receive a higher education. So far Nike has contributed 1 million to this initiative with 85% of their footwear factories offering education programs. This has also been implemented in Pakistan through the International Program on the elimination of child labor, which Nike works with to eliminate child labor from the soccer ball industry and placing more Pakistani children in schools.


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 Nike joined with the International Youth Federation to form the Global alliance for Workers and communities. This focuses on improving working conditions and the long-term professional interests of Nike’s manufacturing employees throughout South East Asia.

The second cause Nike attaches themselves to is “increasing the participation of young people in physical activity to improve their lives”. This initiative has been implemented in many countries and continents such as Europe, Asia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Argentina. They have helped achieve this cause differently within each country, for example, in Mexico Nike refurbished Basketball courts in Hermosillo, Monterrey and Mexico City and supported indigenous sports. In Australia they initiated a program that takes elite athletes into the remote Aboriginal communities to help build self-esteem among indigenous youth by having the athletes spend time with the kids and talk to them about nutrition, health fitness and the dangers of substance abuse.

The third cause Nike is attached to is similar to the second but focused primarily in Oregon, which is where the Nike world headquarters is based, and across the USA.

If you were to unassumingly browse through these sections of the Nike website it would be quite easy to believe that Nike are a company with great morals, excellent employee relations and a strong social conscience. However as with any company you must look through their marketing and discover the reasons behind it. Its interesting to note that the first two causes that are effective globally, were only introduced in 1997, and 2001, specifically their cause that focuses on the development of their employees in countries such as South East Asia and Pakistan. 1 year prior to these causes been implemented a report was released by the Vietnam Labor Watch that exposed the working conditions and wages of sweatshop workers employed to manufacture Nike Products. The report found that employees were receiving per hour and averaging $1.60 a day when the cost for eating simple meals a day was $ 2.10.

· Employees could not go to the Bathroom more than once per 8 hour shift and were not allowed to drink water more than twice per 8 hour shift.

· It was a common occurrence for workers to faint from exhaustion, heat fumes and poor nutrition during their shift.

· Verbal abuse and harassment is frequents and corporal punishment is often used.

· Women workers have complained about sexual harassment from foreign supervisors.

· At the Sam Yang factory that has 6000 employees, only one doctor works hours a day, but the factory operates 10 hours a day.

· On average Nike factory workers are forced to work in excess of 500 hours overtime per year.

· Almost all of the workers interviewed said they had lost weight since working at the Nike factories.

· Other non-Nike shoe factories visited in Vietnam paid higher wages and had much better working conditions.

After this report was released Nike received a Moral hailstorm from the public and their corporate image was in serious trouble. They took steps to rebuild their image by employing a team of PR experts and 1 year later had implemented cause related marketing schemes to improve their public reputation by appearing to have a social conscience.

It is obvious in this case that Nike’s cause related marketing is not truly an expression of their social consciousness, but rather an attempt to improve their public image. If the conditions of Nikes factory workers were never revealed to the public eye then Nike would not have had to implement these cause related marketing schemes, and the situation of their factory workers would not have changed.



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