Nike Ruling Worries PR Industry

The recent ruling by California's Supreme Court that Nike's PR efforts to defend itself against sweatshop labor charges are considered commercial speech has some PR professionals worried that the ruling will have a "chilling effect" on other PR campaigns. "The reaction we have is of great concern over the impact that the ruling has on our ability to be engaged in the discussion about what is going on in our business," Nike's US general counsel Jim Carter told PR Week. The suit brought by Marc Kasky charged that Nike violated a California law that restricts false and misleading statements in commercial speech. "For consumers it means a lot," Kasky's lawyer Alan Caplan said. "Now if a company is going to offer up any information regarding specifics of their product, they have to tell the truth." Activist groups like Corpwatch have welcomed the court's decision, because a ruling in favor of Kasky could reduce corporate whitewashing.