Random Tweet To Blame For Vick-Nike PR Botch

I was one of the first to report yesterday that Michael Vick signed an endorsement contract with Nike. If you only picked up the news from a mainstream outlet that caught on later that day or this morning, you missed the true, original source of the story. Here it is:

Michael Vick signed to Nike Endorsement deal

(What started the Vick-Nike misinformation campaign)

It all started with a Tweet by a woman named Kathleen Hessert, at SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Sponsorship Symposium in New York.

We later found out that Michael Principe, the president of Vick’s rep firm and not Vick’s personal rep Joel Segal, had mentioned an “endorsement deal” between Vick and Nike while serving on a panel at the symposium.

Now, if this was such an earth-shattering endorsement agreement with Nike, do you think Nike and/or Vick’s direct agent would want the news to get out that way? Of course not.

So it appears there’s chance that Segal’s boss either exaggerated the nature of Vick’s agreement with Nike in what he thought was an off-the-record setting, or just got the whole thing wrong.

The big mistake though was made when Segal later affirmed the news to the main media. That’s when the damn broke.

I’ve heard a couple people this morning blaring that Vick’s was LYING!!! about the whole thing. But ask yourself, for such a high-profile deal, what’s the benefit of completely making it up? Obviously if you’re totally misrepresenting a deal with a company like Nike, you’re going to get embarrassed.

What really happened here, in my opinion, is that once the Twitter buzz broke, and blogs like SbB started to distribute the news to the masses, Principe and Segal made the regrettable decision not clarify the agreement immediately. To steer the story back on course.

I don’t think there was anything malicious in the misrepresentation by Principe and Segal, more an excited exaggeration that Vick was back in the fold. That a basic agreement had been struck by the two parties.

But it’s quite clear that Nike didn’t view it that way, and I should’ve known when PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told SbB yesterday that he hadn’t heard from Nike prior to the deal: “Nope, as far as I’m aware we never heard from Nike prior to them re-signing Vick. If we end up doing anything in response to this I’ll let you know.”

That should’ve been a big tipoff that there was no deal of substance. Goodness knows that if Nike were to do a big deal with Vick, it’d consult with animal rights groups first.