Adidas (ADS:GY) has Robert Griffin III. Nike (NKE) has Cristiano Ronaldo. Now Mizuno (8022:JT) has Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator who dominated headlines this week with her marathon filibuster against proposed abortion regulations.
To hold the floor, Davis, who runs a few times a week, needed to stand unassisted, and the media made much of the fact that she’d come prepared, sporting a pair of pink Mizuno “Wave Riders” (the company says the color is “Rouge Red/Apple Green”). The bill she was arguing against eventually passed, but the vote was minutes too late to count. It’s the legislative equivalent of a buzzer-beater or an overtime penalty kick; the crowd went wild, and the sneakers went viral.
— Jordana Rothman (@jordanarothman) June 26, 2013
On Amazon.com, ratings for the shoe immediately accounted for Davis’ stand. “Marathon shoes for marathon filibustering,” one post read. “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day.” Jezebel, Gawker Media’s ladyblog, encouraged readers to buy “Pink Abortion Filibuster Sneakers”, which retail for $115. The Japanese shoe company, better known in the U.S. for baseball cleats and volleyball shoes, was quick to seize the moment, applauding Davis’s endurance while steering clear of the issue:
@WendyDavisTexas 26.2 miles or 13-hour filibuster, we are glad our shoes could be there to provide you the support you need when you need it
— Mizuno Running (@MizunoRunning) June 26, 2013
The company hasn’t seen a spike in sales yet, a company spokesman said in an e-mail, but “by the online discussions our Wave Rider fans seem to be excited to see such attention on their favorite running shoe.” The moment in the spotlight may yet turn out to be valuable. The company has annual sales around $2 billion, which make it downright tiny compared with Nike ($24 billion) and Adidas ($19 billion). In Wendy Davis, Mizuno stumbled into the best kind of endorsement: unpaid, unsolicited, charged with emotion, and explosive on social networks.