Zion Williamson, a Duke University basketball star, suffered a knee sprain last month when his Nike PG 2.5 sneaker blew out in the middle of the game. Nike’s stock fell, and sneakerheads freaked out.
Puma deleted a tweet gloating that the blowout would not have have occurred had Williamson been wearing its shoes, but the sneaker company Skechers took it several steps further this weekend, running an ad in the New York Times and elsewhere. In the ad, the phrase “Just blew it” appears in large type above a photo of shoes resembling Williamson’s damaged pair. Beneath them is the Skechers logo with the promise, “We won’t split on you.”
According to Esquire, the average lifespan of an athletic shoe ranges from about six months for running and other high-impact activities to a year or so for, say, weightlifting.
Skechers doesn’t have a strong presence on college or professional basketball courts, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t want to. Last year the company sued Adidas for denying competitors a fair chance to sign promotional contracts with high school and college basketball programs.
It is also no stranger to controversy. In 2013 the Federal Trade Commission ordered Skechers to pay a $40 million settlement for having “deceptively advertised its toning shoes, including making unfounded claims that its Shape-up shoes would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles,” according to CNN. Skechers sent over 500,000 refund checks to customers who had purchased Shape-ups after celebrity-studded ads—including a 2011 Super Bowl ad starring Kim Kardashian—touted the sneakers’ toning and calorie burning qualities.