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“Feel-Good Marketing Without The Hard Work”: Woman Calls Out Nike For Their Amputee Marketing
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“Feel-Good Marketing Without The Hard Work”: Woman Calls Out Nike For Their Amputee Marketing

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Companies need to put their money where their mouths are. If you advertise a product or a service, then you need to be able to provide it. Otherwise, you’ll end up pushing away customers who might otherwise be big fans of your brand. Luckily, there are people out there who have the courage to fight for what’s right.

Paralympian, world champion, and executive coach Stef Reid went viral on social media and the news for calling out athletic footwear and apparel giant Nike and other companies. These brands use amputee mannequins. However, they do not offer the ability to purchase just one running shoe. Read on for the full story. Bored Panda has reached out to Reid, and we’ll update the article as soon as we hear back from her.

More info: TikTok | Linktree | X | LinkedIn | Instagram | StefReid.com

“Dear Nike, is it possible to buy just one shoe because I only have one foot?”

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“Two friends recently sent me photos of mannequins in Nike stores with running blades. And I thought this was awesome. But then I asked the obvious question.”

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“The answer was ‘no’. They offered a one time 10% discount, which I said was very kind, but next time I buy running shoes, I’m still only going to have one foot, so it’s not really a solution.”

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Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“They upped it to 15%, which I declined, and they then promised to take the issue to their ‘higher ups’.”

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

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Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“It’s been nine days, and I still haven’t heard from Nike. However, I did discover that other sports brands are also using blade runners to sell their shoes.”

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“So I asked them if they sold shoes as singles. Again, the answer was ‘no’.”

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Image credits: runjumpstefreid

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

“Now I love that companies are using amputee mannequins, but if you are going to use the image, you have to back it up in the way that you do business.”

Image credits: runjumpstefreid

You can watch the full viral video right over here

@runjumpstefreid I love that companies are using amputee mannequins. I lost part of my right leg in an accident when I was 16. I know how special it would have been as a new amputee to see a big sports brand using that image. But if you are going to use the image, you need to back it up in the way you do business. Of course companies want to brand themselves as inclusive. The problem is feel good marketing without the hard work. It has to be supported by changes in policies and procedures across your business. I’ve been contacted by three news outlets, so hopefully these questions are asked on a wider scale. In my experience, it’s rarely a case of intentional oversight. It’s just that no one has asked the question. #running #nike #bladerunner #amputee #inclusion #diversity #pov ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

“It’s really expensive and I’m going to buy this [pair] and I’m going to throw half away. This just seems a little bit silly. I would never have gone down this route but when a company is using the image [of amputee runners in promotional material], they’re making a statement that they want to be diverse and inclusive,” Reid told Reuters in an interview.

Meanwhile, Nike, which offered Reid a 15% discount on the pair of shoes, had this to say to Reuters: “At Nike, we stand for all athletes, and sponsor a number of Para athletes and federations around the world and work with them across all forms of movement.”

According to Nike, their ‘One Shoe Bank’ program in the US offers single shoes out of their Memphis distribution center. “Taking the learnings from the program, we are hoping to expand it to more geographies in the future.”

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Reid’s video, where she called out various companies’ business practices, went massively viral. At the time of writing, it has 4.4 million views on TikTok. Meanwhile, the story was picked up by major outlets worldwide, including news titans like the BBC, Reuters, and The Guardian. This just goes to show that people really do care about the issue.

In a follow-up clip, which was viewed 182k times, the Paralympian also answered some of the top questions that she received from her audience, clarifying a few things they had on their mind.

It’s not just Nike that uses amputee mannequins to promote its products. Reid noted that Brands like Decathlon and Brooks do so as well. The reality is that if you use mannequins and images to advertise your products, you really do need to back it up with how you do business. Or, to put it very simply, if you advertise a single shoe, you need to be able to sell a single shoe.

Doing anything less feels like a betrayal of your customer base, and it’s also corrosive to a brand’s reputation and public image. It makes consumers wonder what else these companies might pretend to do that they don’t follow through on. There needs to be honesty and authenticity in marketing.

“Of course companies want to brand themselves as inclusive. The problem is feel good marketing without the hard work. It has to be supported by changes in policies and procedures across your business,” Reid writes on TikTok.

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Reid isn’t the only one driving the conversation forward. Paralympic athlete Sophie Kamlish told the BBC that companies should do more. “Nike are using the image of inclusion, which is really cool. You wouldn’t have seen that a few years ago, but they’re not being as helpful when it comes to buying one shoe,” she said.

“It’s irritating and annoying because I’ve got these perfectly good shoes just hanging around my house that I have to throw in the bin, or not use at all.”

Kamlish told the BBC that she has actually found someone with an opposite-side amputation to swap shoes with. “But it’s quite a rarity to be able to find that sole-mate,” she said that she was very lucky.

According to her bio, Reid is a world champion (2017), a four-time Paralympian, a triple Paralympic medallist (2008, 2012, 2016), and a five-time world record holder.

She holds a degree in biochemistry and is also a keynote speaker, broadcaster, executive coach, actor, and fashion model. In fact, Reid was the first amputee to walk the London Fashion Week catwalk. She also competed in the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics and took part in the British reality show Dancing on Ice 2022.

Reid was born in New Zealand to Scottish and English parents but grew up in Toronto. She then moved to Dallas with her Canadian husband before settling down in the UK in 2010. When she was 15, she was involved in a boating accident and part of her right leg had to be amputated.

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While studying at Queen’s University in Canada, Reid joined the athletics team, starting an impressive Paralympic career. She announced her retirement from sports in June 2022 and now focuses on inspiring and motivating others to “find their version of High Performance.”

The internet had a lot to say on the topic. Here are some people’s opinions

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Jonas Grinevičius

Jonas Grinevičius

Writer, BoredPanda staff

Read more »

Storytelling, journalism, and art are a core part of who I am. I've been writing and drawing ever since I could walk—there is nothing else I'd rather do. My formal education, however, is focused on politics, philosophy, and economics because I've always been curious about the gap between the ideal and the real. At work, I'm a Senior Writer and I cover a broad range of topics that I'm passionate about: from psychology and changes in work culture to healthy living, relationships, and design. In my spare time, I'm an avid hiker and reader, enjoy writing short stories, and love to doodle. I thrive when I'm outdoors, going on small adventures in nature. However, you can also find me enjoying a big mug of coffee with a good book (or ten) and entertaining friends with fantasy tabletop games and sci-fi movies.

Read less »
Jonas Grinevičius

Jonas Grinevičius

Writer, BoredPanda staff

Storytelling, journalism, and art are a core part of who I am. I've been writing and drawing ever since I could walk—there is nothing else I'd rather do. My formal education, however, is focused on politics, philosophy, and economics because I've always been curious about the gap between the ideal and the real. At work, I'm a Senior Writer and I cover a broad range of topics that I'm passionate about: from psychology and changes in work culture to healthy living, relationships, and design. In my spare time, I'm an avid hiker and reader, enjoy writing short stories, and love to doodle. I thrive when I'm outdoors, going on small adventures in nature. However, you can also find me enjoying a big mug of coffee with a good book (or ten) and entertaining friends with fantasy tabletop games and sci-fi movies.

Indrė Lukošiūtė

Indrė Lukošiūtė

Author, BoredPanda staff

Read more »

I am a Visual editor at Bored Panda, I'm determined to find the most interesting and the best quality images for each post that I do. On my free time I like to unwind by doing some yoga, watching all kinds of movies/tv shows, playing video and board games or just simply hanging out with my cat

Read less »

Indrė Lukošiūtė

Indrė Lukošiūtė

Author, BoredPanda staff

I am a Visual editor at Bored Panda, I'm determined to find the most interesting and the best quality images for each post that I do. On my free time I like to unwind by doing some yoga, watching all kinds of movies/tv shows, playing video and board games or just simply hanging out with my cat

What do you think?
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wj_vaughan avatar
Anyone-for-tea?
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The Solemate app is a great idea! Because you know if those big companies sell only one shoe, it won’t be for half the price.

zgutrnrkqijpbykmpl avatar
ZGutr
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It is, and I do hope something alike comes to see the light of day. If only to prove manufacturers wrong and maybe (a small) environmental benefit. There ares some issues to solve ..... There are so many shoes (brand and model), and so many sizes and there is L/R .... It would be easiest if manufacturers solved it. It's absurd they market themself this way only not to follow through.

Load More Replies...
a-rocamora avatar
Alro
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

2 shoes- too many for an amputee. 1 seat-too little for a bigger person. Who should pay for non-standard items? general question for debate.

de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Valid question. Shoes are a mass-product: any deviation from the standard leads, rightly or wrongly, to a price increase. Also, amputees are not, as far as numbers are concerned, a large enough group of consumers for most manufacturers to make changes for, again, rightly or wrongly. Lastly, the suggestion to just buy two left or right shoes makes the other shoes unsalable and so leads to the kind of waste we should aim to eradicate. This Solemate app seems to me to be the best available option.

Load More Replies...
dbzi5shm avatar
Secret Squirrel
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

With the size of Nike as a company, and the incredible profit from each pair of shoes sold. Nike could easily eat the cost of a few shoes to support athletes with disabilities. This is not going to come up often. Also, the shoes are sold in pairs, but not produced in pairs, if it's not worth boxing up a few singles, you could easily take the shows that are unmatched due to factory defects of the mate to sell to people looking for one shoe. Either way accomodating athletes who only need one shoe wouldn't make the tiniest dent in their bottom line, but would do a lot of good for their potential clients. Seems like a no brainer, Nike.

kenbeattie avatar
Ken Beattie
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I feel like the first company to do something like that is going to score a massive public relations coup as well. Think of the free press and the bump in sales it's going to generate.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
wj_vaughan avatar
Anyone-for-tea?
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The Solemate app is a great idea! Because you know if those big companies sell only one shoe, it won’t be for half the price.

zgutrnrkqijpbykmpl avatar
ZGutr
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It is, and I do hope something alike comes to see the light of day. If only to prove manufacturers wrong and maybe (a small) environmental benefit. There ares some issues to solve ..... There are so many shoes (brand and model), and so many sizes and there is L/R .... It would be easiest if manufacturers solved it. It's absurd they market themself this way only not to follow through.

Load More Replies...
a-rocamora avatar
Alro
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

2 shoes- too many for an amputee. 1 seat-too little for a bigger person. Who should pay for non-standard items? general question for debate.

de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Valid question. Shoes are a mass-product: any deviation from the standard leads, rightly or wrongly, to a price increase. Also, amputees are not, as far as numbers are concerned, a large enough group of consumers for most manufacturers to make changes for, again, rightly or wrongly. Lastly, the suggestion to just buy two left or right shoes makes the other shoes unsalable and so leads to the kind of waste we should aim to eradicate. This Solemate app seems to me to be the best available option.

Load More Replies...
dbzi5shm avatar
Secret Squirrel
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

With the size of Nike as a company, and the incredible profit from each pair of shoes sold. Nike could easily eat the cost of a few shoes to support athletes with disabilities. This is not going to come up often. Also, the shoes are sold in pairs, but not produced in pairs, if it's not worth boxing up a few singles, you could easily take the shows that are unmatched due to factory defects of the mate to sell to people looking for one shoe. Either way accomodating athletes who only need one shoe wouldn't make the tiniest dent in their bottom line, but would do a lot of good for their potential clients. Seems like a no brainer, Nike.

kenbeattie avatar
Ken Beattie
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I feel like the first company to do something like that is going to score a massive public relations coup as well. Think of the free press and the bump in sales it's going to generate.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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