What Would You Do? Nike V. Kasky Case Puts Public Relations Campaigns under New Scrutiny

By Jenkins, Allan | Communication World, April-May 2003 | Go to article overview

What Would You Do? Nike V. Kasky Case Puts Public Relations Campaigns under New Scrutiny


Jenkins, Allan, Communication World


Scenario: Your New York-based company has led the effort in your industry for environment-friendly practices. Now your CEO is named "Green CEO of the Year" by a Canadian environmental protection group.

Do you issue a press release and give the award star billing in your annual Environmental Report? Or do you advise your CEO to grant no interviews, make no statements and say nothing at the awards ceremony?

Scenario: After its own investigation, an activist group uses full-page ads to accuse your company of exploitative labor practice in Poland. The company's investigators find the charges to be untrue. An independent third-party labor auditor finds them untrue. The Polish government states that your company is in compliance with national law.

Do you refute the charges when queried, citing the investigations? Or do you answer, "No comment?"

Depending on the outcome of Nike v. Kasky, a case now before the United States Supreme Court, you may find yourself saying "no comment" much more often because it will be the only way to avoid lawsuits in California for false advertising.

HOW DID WE GET TO THIS POINT?

To know why, we first look back to 1996. Nike, an athletic-shoe maker, was widely accused of ignoring its contractors' alleged exploitative labor practices in Southeast Asia. Several charities and activist groups cited instances of workers being subjected to long working hours, sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.

Nike countered with public statements showing that it required all contractors to sign, abide by and document compliance with a Memorandum of Understanding that commits its contractors to follow all local laws about wages, benefits, child labor, equal opportunity, working conditions, etc.

In 1997, the company asked Andrew Young, a U.S. civil rights leader and former United Nations ambassador, to carry out an independent audit of Nike contractors' labor practices. Young examined 12 factories and reported favorably for Nike, finding no evidence of widespread abuse or mistreatment, but did comment that Nike could do better.

Yet the accusations continued. By mid-1997, news outlets across the U.S. were asking if Nike was indeed exploiting--or allowing others to exploit--workers making its footwear.

Nike responded with a major public relations effort, citing the rules it expected contractors to follow, referencing reports from auditors and citing the Young Report. As one part of that effort, it published advertisements in major papers to make its case.

Those advertisements caught the eye of Marc Kasky, a California resident and community activist. Kasky believed that the advertisements and other statements made by Nike were misleading.

Kasky sued Nike, under a California law whereby any citizens can sue--in a so-called "strike suit"--companies they believe are violating the California Business and Professions Code. The plaintiff need not have been injured by the company or its statements. Nor does the plaintiff need to be a customer of the company. And the company does not need to be California based; it need only do business there (Nike is based in Oregon). Further, the statements in question do not need to have been made in California. Accessibility by a Californian is sufficient.

Kasky alleged that Nike had violated California law by making negligent or reckless misrepresentations "to maintain and/or increase its sales and profits...through its advertising, promotional campaigns, public statements and marketing."

He asked the court to order Nike to 'disgorge all monies" that it had acquired as a result of the alleged misrepresentations, and to carry out a court-supervised public relations campaign to correct the alleged misrepresentations.

At trial, the judge dismissed Kasky's suit, ruling that Nike, in responding to accusations about work practices, was exercising its right to protected free speech. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Would You Do? Nike V. Kasky Case Puts Public Relations Campaigns under New Scrutiny
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.