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NOT SO SHARP: Just Forward It!


Nike thought a personalised shoes promotion would be pretty sharp. But as the following correspondence in wide circulation on the Internet today shows, Nike’s sharp idea turned around and bit them on the ass.

Nike now lets you personalize your shoes by submitting a word or phrase which they will stitch onto your shoes, under the swoosh. So Jonah Peretti filled out the form and sent them $50 to stitch "SWEATSHOP" on to his shoes. Here's the response he got...

From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
To: "'Jonah H. Peretti'" peretti@media.mit.edu
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000
Your NIKE iD order was cancelled for one or more of the following reasons:
1) Your Personal iD contains another party's trademark or other intellectual property
2) Your Personal iD contains the name of an athlete or team we do not have the legal right to use
3) Your Personal iD was left blank. Did you not want any personalization?
4) Your Personal iD contains profanity or inappropriate slang, and besides, your mother would slap us.

If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product with a new personalization please visit us again at www.nike.com Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" peretti@media.mit.edu
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Greetings, My order was canceled but my personal NIKE iD does not violate any of the criteria outlined in your message. The Personal iD on my custom ZOOM XC USA running shoes was the word "sweatshop."

Sweatshop is not:
1) another's party's trademark,
2) the name of an athlete,
3) blank, or
4) profanity.

I choose the iD because I wanted to remember the toil and labor of the children that made my shoes. Could you please ship them to me immediately. Thanks and Happy New Year, Jonah Peretti


From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
To: "'Jonah H. Peretti'" peretti@media.mit.edu
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD Customer, Your NIKE iD order was cancelled because the iD you have chosen contains, as stated in the previous e-mail correspondence, "inappropriate slang". If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product with a new personalization please visit us again at nike.com Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" peretti@media.mit.edu
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD, Thank you for your quick response to my inquiry about my custom ZOOM XC USA running shoes.

Although I commend you for your prompt customer service, I disagree with the claim that my personal iD was inappropriate slang. After consulting Webster's Dictionary, I discovered that "sweatshop" is in fact part of standard English, and not slang. The word means: "a shop or factory in which workers are employed for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions" and its origin dates from 1892.

So my personal iD does meet the criteria detailed in your first email. Your web site advertises that the NIKE iD program is "about freedom to choose and freedom to express who you are." I share Nike's love of freedom and personal statement.

The site also says that "If you want it done right...build it yourself." I was thrilled to be able to build my own shoes, and my personal iD was offered as a small token of appreciation for the sweatshop workers poised to help me realize my vision. I hope that you will value my freedom of statement and reconsider your decision to reject my order. Thank you, Jonah Peretti


From: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
To: "'Jonah H. Peretti'" peretti@media.mit.edu
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD Customer, Regarding the rules for personalization it also states on the NIKE iD web site that "Nike reserves the right to cancel any personal iD up to 24 hours after it has been submitted".

In addition, it further explains: "While we honor most personal iDs, we cannot honor every one. Some may be (or contain) other's trademarks, or the names of certain professional sports teams, athletes or celebrities that Nike does not have the right to use. Others may contain material that we consider inappropriate or simply do not want to place on our products. Unfortunately, at times this obliges us to decline personal iDs that may otherwise seem unobjectionable.

In any event, we will let you know if we decline your personal iD, and we will offer you the chance to submit another." With these rules in mind, we cannot accept your order as submitted. If you wish to reorder your NIKE iD product with a new personalization please visit us again at www.nike.com Thank you, NIKE iD


From: "Jonah H. Peretti" peretti@media.mit.edu
To: "Personalize, NIKE iD" nikeid_personalize@nike.com
Subject: RE: Your NIKE iD order o16468000

Dear NIKE iD, Thank you for the time and energy you have spent on my request. I have decided to order the shoes with a different iD, but I would like to make one small request. Could you please send me a color snapshot of the ten-year-old Vietnamese girl who makes my shoes? Thanks, Jonah Peretti


As one forwarder writes: ... this will now go round the world much farther and faster than any of the adverts they paid Michael Jordan more than the entire wage packet of all their sweatshop workers in the world to do...

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