Serena Williams didn’t wear Nike’s controversial “Premium Slam” tennis dress at the Wimbledon final this weekend. Nike made an outfit specifically designed for her. But quite a few athletes who were supposed to wear the Nike “nightie” dress at this year’s tournament decided not to. And quite a few more made their own alterations to make the dress more wearable.
That didn’t stop Nike’s dress from generating a huge amount of interest around the world. And the fact that some athletes didn’t wear the dress only made the story more attention-grabbing.
So why did the dress get so much attention?
“Too short,” said some, “too floaty,” said others, “too revealing,” said players and spectators alike.
Now let’s be honest, there is always some kind of dress-code controversy at Wimbledon. There is always one or two who flout the rules and ruffle a few feathers. But it’s usually the players and not the brands themselves who draw the most attention.
So did one of the world’s most marketing savvy brands actually get it wrong this year?
I believe they did.
I think Nike’s “baby doll” tennis dress was a miss because it is completely off brand. Which is unusual for Nike.
Nike is a brand that puts the needs of its athletes first. And it is usually the master at marrying form and function. I’m sure if Nike is faced with a choice between form and function, function would normally win hands down. Nike knows that nothing should get in the way of an athlete’s performance. Especially not a floaty dress.
Now I completely understand that Nike is designing apparel that has a fashion edge, but when that edge gets in the way of performance, I think Nike has a problem.
I’m sure the Nike PR team will chalk this up as a win. They really did get people talking. But I don’t think Nike shouldn’t do this too often.
Nike is undoubtable an amazing brand because it knows who it is and what it stands for. That’s why, when it gets it wrong, it really is very obvious.