Nike Withdraws Betsy Ross Flag Sneaker from Market

August 4, 2019
Nike Withdraws Betsy Ross Flag Sneaker from Market

Nike has withdrawn their Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoe.

The shoe features an early U.S. flag, commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross Flag.  Nike decided to pull the shoe from the market after Colin Kaepernick expressed concerns about what the Betsy Ross flag represented.

The shoes were already in retail stores in anticipation of the July 4th holiday sales.  A handful of these shoes had already been sold.

Video Spotlight:  Nike pulls ‘Betsy Ross flag’ sneakers after Colin Kaepernick steps in

This post is based on the NBC News article, Nike Pulls Betsy Ross Flag Shoes after Kaepernick Complaint, Report Says, by Ben Kesslen, July 2, 2019, and the YouTube video, Nike pulls ‘Betsy Ross flag’ sneakers after Colin Kaepernick steps inby CNBC Television, July 2, 2019. Image source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (LC-USZC4-2998).

Discussion Questions: 

1. With the shoe already in stores, what operations management issues have arisen with Nike’s decision to withdraw the shoes?

Guidance: Immediately, Nike needs to retrieve the sneakers from the stores.  There is an added problem in that there are Nike Shoe collectors, and the handful of shoes that did reach the market are commanding premium prices.  Extra care will need to be used to retrieve as many as possible.

Once retrieved, decisions will need to be made as to what to do with the shoes.  Can they be reworked to remove the flag or will they need to be destroyed?  If destroyed what is the environmental impact?

Other operations management issues include inventory management.  Not only will they need to discard their inventory management plans for this shoe, but the fallout could impact other shoes as well.  Will this result in an increase in sales of other models?

2. What improvement needs to be made to Nike’s product design process?

Guidance: Depending on how one feels about the publicity, it can either be argued that Nike’s design process needs to be improved, or not.

Instead of waiting for shoes to reach retailers, Nike might want to change or eliminate designs at a much earlier stage of the product design process.  Substantial production and design costs could be saved by recognizing a problem with the design earlier in the process.


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