Nike’s John Donahoe backs Disney’s Bob Iger over Ron DeSantis
Nike’s top executive praised Disney CEO Bob Iger for his handling of the Mouse House’s ongoing war with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — just weeks after the apparel giant came under fire for its marketing partnership with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
“I think Bob’s doing a great job at this,” Nike CEO John Donahoe said of Iger on Monday.
Days before Mulvaney began promoting Bud Light to her millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram, she also posted images of her wearing Nike sports bras.
The Nike partnership also sparked boycott calls.
But Donahoe told CNBC that Nike will adhere to its track record of promoting racial and social justice causes.
When asked by CNBC if he was worried that DeSantis would come after other “woke” corporations such as Nike if the Republican governor manages to get elected president next year, Donahoe said companies should “stand up for your values.”
“If it’s core to who you are and your values, then no, you stand up for your values,” Donahoe said during the CNBC CEO Council Summit in Santa Barbara, Calif.
“If it’s commenting on some political issue that’s in someone else’s backyard, then we may have that personal feeling, but we don’t comment on it with our brand and publicly.”
Disney has sued DeSantis, accusing the Florida governor of violating the company’s First Amendment rights by stripping the Mouse House of its semi-autonomous status in response to its opposition to the law dubbed by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.”
Earlier this month, Iger slammed DeSantis for his takeover and dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Disney-dominated tax district that gave the company control over the land on which its theme parks are built.
“This is about one thing and one thing only: them retaliating against us,” Iger said.
Nike inked an endorsement deal with Colin Kaepernick, the controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who led the national anthem kneeling protests that roiled the NFL in 2016.
The sneaker giant has also entered into partnership with Lacey Baker, the first openly queer woman to join Nike’s skateboarding team.
Donahoe said that Nike’s strategy is to appeal to its “core consumer” in “urban black and brown communities.”
“And so, we listen to our athletes and to our consumer about what they care about and they care about racial and social justice and so we view that as core to who we are, core to our identity…so it gives us a little more courage to speak out,” he said.
Disney, Anheuser-Busch, and Target are among the companies that have recently paid a price for running afoul of GOP-leaning consumers.
Disney’s ongoing feud with DeSantis has caused the Mouse House to plummet in a key gauge that measures the reputation of the most visible brands in America.
The Post has sought comment from DeSantis.
The Florida governor on Wednesday declared his candidacy for the GOP nomination for president in 2024.
Mulvaney’s social media posts touting Bud Light triggered outrage among conservatives who began calling for a boycott of the Anheuser-Busch brand.
Target has lost $9 billion in market value since angry social media users called for a boycott of the Minneapolis-based retailer over its rollout of the “PRIDE” collection featuring LGBTQ-friendly clothing for children.
Bud Light has seen its sales drop for some six consecutive weeks — down 25% versus a year ago in the most recent week — since boycott calls erupted in response to its controversial marketing campaign with Mulvaney.