Skechers — and performance athletics? Not really the first thing that comes to mind. Often when I hear of the shoe brand, I suppress a snicker because I recall the all-too-recent $40-million settlement the sneaker company was forced to pay out after claiming their curved-bottom sneakers had booty-shaping benefits a la Kim Kardashian. However, the brand is gaining some serious positive attention — thanks to Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi.
The 38-year-old elite runner originally signed an endorsement deal with the brand in 2011 (with then-Pats player Danny Woodhead, who had a similar two-year deal) following his New York Marathon win and crossed the Boston finish line wearing Skechers’ Gomeb Speed 3 sneakers. Yes, they are named after him. Skechers Vice President of Merchandising Marketing Rick Higgins told Bloomberg that the Keflezighi’s Boston Marathon win “is just a huge leap forward for the entire Skechers performance division, the entire brand as a whole.”
Skechers introduced their performance line GOrun in 2011, and while they’ve been met with some skepticism, most of the reviews found on running blogs are generally pretty positive. Reviewers even compare this lightweight sneaker to minimalist running shoe market competitors like Nike Free and Adidas ClimaCoolRide.
The exact details of Keflezighi’s contract with Skechers are pretty much under wraps but the Wall Street Journal reported an alleged annual “mid-six figure sum” with the deal that has recently been extended through 2016. As for Skechers, the brand’s stock SKX saw noteworthy traction following the win, giving the company serious bragging rights, which they proudly displayed on their e-commerce homepage.
Rita Jeptoo of Kenya defended her women’s victory in this year’s marathon while wearing Nike Zoom Streak 3s — but it seems that Skechers is coming as the triumphant underdog in this endorsement story, inspiring innocent but totally smirk-worthy headlines like this gem from the Washington Post: “Skechers beats Nike in Boston Marathon”. (BURN.)
And honestly, maybe it’s all on them. According to the Journal, Nike cut ties with Keflezighi in 2010 and in an interview last month, the runner told the publication, “It’s a business decision they have to make. But at the same time, there’s people that are employed by Nike that hopefully regret their decision.”
Double burn.Rachel Raczka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweeted @rachelraczka.