Nike’s (NKE) offices apparently lack geography buffs – and maps, for that matter. Had the company had access to one or the either, it might have managed to avoid the embarrassment of removing a shirt which misidentified the state of South Carolina from the market Saturday.
The Carolina Panthers, an NFL team based out of Charlotte, N.C., do admittedly have an ambiguous name. But the Nike shirt, which features the Panthers logo imposed on a prominent silhouette of the Palmetto State, betrayed an ignorance of US state borders by labeling the state “NC.”
If not for that one small detail, they could have gotten away with the error. Will Brenson at CBS Sports explains, “the Panthers are very much a North Carolina team but their appeal is wide-ranging in the Carolinas. Folks in South Carolina root for the Panthers as much as their northern neighbors (the Panthers did play in Clemson, S.C., during their inaugural 1995 season).”
Still, the Carolina mix-up is far less likely to offend than Nike’s decision last year to release a pair of Guinness-themed sneakers called “Black and Tans,” the same name given to the British-backed Royal Irish Constabulary during Ireland’s war for independence.
Despite the dumb mistake, the $32 Panthers shirts could wind up being a smart investment, considering a likely increase in value if the shirts become collectibles after being pulled, as many commentators have suggested.