Oscar Pistorius ad campaign: Nike won't just do it

Nike said the wording in the 2007 campaign

Nike said the wording in the 2007 campaign "was in reference to Oscar's speed and performance on the track," and felt it was appropriate to take the ad down." (Supplied)

As a winding queue of local and international journalists formed at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Tuesday morning to cover murder-accused Paralympian Pistorius' bid for bail, Nike spokesperson KeJuan Wilkins on Monday confirmed the sports gear company's plans to Associated Press.

He declined to say whether Nike had previously had any plans for Pistorius, or whether it will pull current advertising that includes him.

A Nike internet advert showing Pistorius  – charged on Friday with the murder of 29-year-old Steenkamp, who was shot dead at his luxury Pretoria home – starting to sprint in his blades with the caption: "I am the bullet in the chamber" has already been pulled.

Wilkins said the wording in the 2007 campaign "was in reference to Oscar's speed and performance on the track". Nike felt it was appropriate to take the ad down from Oscar's website recognising the sensitivities of the situation."

Pistorius will appear in court for the second time on Tuesday as his bail hearing begins. Steenkamp's family has planned a private cremation ceremony at her hometime on Tuesday.

The Mail & Guardian on Monday reported that Pistorius called off his races due to take place in coming months.

"I have decided that following these tragic events that we have no option but to cancel all future races that Oscar Pistorius had been contracted to compete in to allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings," Pistorius's manager Peet van Zyl said on Sunday.

Sponsors and partners would in the meantime maintain their contractual commitments awaiting the outcome of the legal process, said Van Zyl.

Oregan, US-based Nike, which spent $800-million on endorsements in its last fiscal year, has found itself in tricky situations with athletes before.

It dropped Lance Armstrong in October 2012 after charges of widespread doping on his cycling teams. Armstrong has since admitted to doping and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, and was also dropped by other sponsors.

But Nike stood by golfer Tiger Woods after he admitted to infidelities and went to rehab for sex addiction, and restarted a relationship with football player Michael Vick once he had served time for illegal dog-fighting.

Pistorius' website, which has been posting statements from his manager and his family, still shows other Nike ads, as well as logos from it and other sponsors.

One of those, sunglasses maker Oakley, did not respond to a message from Associated Press on Monday.– Sapa-AP


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