Handling a PR Crisis Involving Executives

5WPR News
executive crisis management 06.16.21

A couple of months ago, Nike faced a business crisis as the vice president of North America’s business department, Ann Hebert, had to resign from her position after a report surfaced that her son was running an entire resale operation involving Nike sneakers.

According to the report, Hebert’s 19-year-old son, Joe Hebert, was at one point selling more than $200,000 worth of Nike sneakers per month. Joe had been sharing photos next to piles of rare pairs of sneakers, and selling those sneakers at prices far higher than the retail ones.

The operation that he was running involved him buying up discounted products from Nike’s company store, where previously only employees of the corporation, along with their friends and family, could access it.

Additionally, although the report didn’t detail  whether his business operation directly benefited from having his mother in  a high-ranking position within the company, the connection between the two remained..

Joe had also stated that he hadn’t been receiving insider information from his mother, yet, he was still able to obtain and sell some sneakers that the general public considered hard to find.

Furthermore, Joe was also running a Discord server, for which he charged $250 per month for memberships, where the members could receive information on future discounts, dates for sales, and stock information. When the report surfaced, many casual sneaker enthusiasts as well as diehard sneakerheads ended up commenting on the situation on social media platforms.

A month before this report, another allegation emerged that a sneaker store in Florida was also secretly selling sneakers for a higher retail price before the products were officially launched.

In both cases, the public was outraged at the events, and Nike only responded to journalists’ questions that the company already had a code of business conduct with policies on buying and selling Nike products. The corporation also stated that it would be taking the consumer’s feelings and options into account and looking for ways to satisfy its millions of customers.

Unfortunately, members of the public weren’t satisfied with the response, or the activities from Nike, which has led to many sneaker fans creating jokes as well as memes about both Nike and Joe Hebert.

There was also outcry from lower-tier Nike employees, who publicly stated that the company had a completely different standard for them, as they were at risk of termination if they were found to have any relationships with any resellers, or were found abusing their discount codes in any way.

On the other hand, Ann Hebert had allowed her son to use the family discount card. Brands and corporations can take this crisis situation as a lesson on company policy, and what can happen when there are no clearly defined rules at every point and how to start making interior changes to prevent such situations from happening.

Additionally, when situations similar to this one arise, where people are accused of favoritism, elitism, and nepotism, it’s best for the company to implement the changes that have been promised to the public, which is something that Nike has yet to do.

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