Nike sues street brand for allegedly altering Air Max to create Satan shoes

Nike is reportedly suing American retail company MSCHF for trademark infringement, after the latter altered Nike's Air Max 97 shoe to create "Satan shoes". The red and black shoes feature a pentagram, an inverted cross, and a Bible verse describing Satan's fall. It also allegedly has a drop of human blood mixed with red ink in the soles of each pair of shoes. In a court document seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Nike said the Satan shoes prominently feature Nike's famous Swoosh logo, and that could create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike. It is added that there has been calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF's Satan shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorised or approved the product. 

Nike has requested the court to immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling orders for the shoes. "Decisions about what products to put the SWOOSH (Nike's logo) on belong to Nike, not to third parties [such as] MSCHF", the sports brand added. Nike has also previously released a statement to multiple media outlets previously declaring that it was not involved in the production of the shoes. "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them," the sports brand said. Nike has declined to comment on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's queries.

The brush between Nike and MSCHF comes as MSCHF produced 666 pairs of "Satan shoes" which were endorsed by American singer Lil Nas X. The shoes were launched in line with the singer's latest music video "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" which had a satanic theme, and even featured the character of Satan. The video is currently the number 47 most trending video on the platform.

Just yesterday, Lil Nas X posted a video on his YouTube channel titled "Lil Nas X apologises for Satan shoe". The video was later revealed to be clickbait, where the singer's "apology" cuts to the scene in his MONTERO music video where he was dancing with the devil.

According to MSCHF's official website for its Satan shoes, 665 pairs of shoes have since been sold and only one pair remains available. Each pair of shoes are priced at approximately SG$1,372.

nike lil nax x satan

Besides the Satan shoes series, MSCHF has also previously unveiled pairs of "Jesus shoes". Similarly altering Nike's Air Max 97 shoes, MSCHF's Jesus shoes features a cross, and is said to be filled with holy water in its soles. The shoes also shows the Bible verse Matthew 14:25, that narrates how Jesus walked on water. Nike did not sue over the Jesus shoes, according to multiple media outlets.

Netizens online were quick to call out on this difference in treatment. Twitter users said Nike is biased to file a lawsuit against the Satan shoes, but not the Jesus shoes. Separately, another netizen pointed out that whether people are pro or against the Satan shoe, it would be a horrible marketing strategy for such a large company to make a product so controversial.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Content 360 Week is back from 6 to 8 April this year! Super charge your content production, distribution and monetisation strategies by learning from brands such as NBA Asia, P&G, Malaysia Airlines, and Marriott International, among others. Sign up today!

Related Articles:
Nike jumps on Lazada marketplace to cater to unique tastes of SEA consumers
Analysis: Can Under Armour score a slam dunk against Nike's Jordan with the new Curry Brand?
Nike Japan ad on racism and bullying spurs fiery debate and backlash online