Mizuno: choosing not to capitalize on controversy

Posted on July 2, 2013

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Mizuno was thrust unexpectedly into the spotlight when TX Senator Wendy Davis famously wore a pair of the company’s Wave Riders in her historic filibuster. As filibusters don’t happen every day, the media were  looking for every possible angle on the news — right down to the shoes the Senator wore during her “marathon” speech, during which she was not allowed to lean on anything or sit down (what kind of rules are these, anyway?).

Unlike other major news events where brands have sometimes been called out for distasteful responses – Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombings, Supreme Court rulings on gay rights – Mizuno wasn’t just a fly on the wall with an opportunity to capitalize. In this case, the popular running shoe brand was called out by name, practically inviting some sort of response. So, did Mizuno start creating catchy ads? Did they man the social media channels during the Senator’s filibuster to cheer her on? Nope. Instead, they just issued a bland corporate response on their blog.

And you know what? I give major props to Mizuno. Sure, they could’ve developed an ad like the creative one below, capitalized on the marketing opportunity and raked in the sales. As a loyal Mizuno customer and pro-choicer, I would’ve proudly supported that approach.

On the other hand, Ms. Davis’ filibuster was extremely controversial and not really on topic for the brand. As Mizuno stated in their blog, “this conversation did not start out as a running conversation, thus we have limited our engagement to date. We are fortunate to have benefited from this conversation and do appreciate Ms. Davis selecting our quality athletic footwear for her ‘endurance’ event; however we do not have a corporate position related to the topic she presented.”

Sure, it’s sort of a lame “non-response,” but it’s also an example of sticking to your social media policy. Is the conversation about running? If not, let’s stay out of it. Mizuno recognizes that they’ve greatly benefited from all the discussion around filibuster footwear and they’re leaving it at that, without alienating customers or employees – not an easy task given the subject matter.

What do you think? Did they do the right thing?

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Read more: The Awesome Mizuno Ad You Will Never See | Digiday.

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