Nearly a year after Colin Kaepernick drummed up a social media storm as a major Nike ($NKE) endorsee, the brand's latest controversy regarding a 4th of July shoe bookends a year of issues that could be concerning for investors. Those issues are now manifesting in an almost 50% reduction in job openings since October 2018.
Nike's latest controversy revolves around the release of a 4th of July shoe featuring the original 13-colony American Flag. It pulled the shoe after Kaepernick — and hundreds of social media followers — balked at the flag's association with a time of slavery in America. This outraged right-leaning politicians, including the Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey pulling a state grant for Nike's soon-to-be-built plant in Goodyear. In response to this, officials in Goodyear assured Nike it would still give the company $2 million for the project, which is supposed to be where new Nike Air Max sneakers will be made.
To be fair, that outrage didn't seem to generate buzz on Facebook for Nike. The company's Facebook "Talking About Count" — a metric that measures the number of individual stories on a brand — barely registered a blip on or around the 4th.
And now those Arizona factory plans aren't happening any time soon. There aren't any factory hires on Nike's official jobs page yet, and the jobs that are available — in retail — are few and far between.
The Betsy Ross flag shoe controversy is now a 2020 campaign statement for several politicians. As a result, Nike isn't looking too great in the public eye, and job listings data reveals that the company is also slowing down behind the scenes.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.
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