The death toll from the tragic events at Astroworld just over a week ago is now 10. In addition to the eight fatalities confirmed on the Saturday, 22-year old Bharti Shahani died after several days in ICU. And possibly even more heartbreaking was the death of Ezra Blount – who was just nine years old.
Since then, festival founder Travis Scott has been living the life of a recluse. Which is hardly surprising – his offer to pay for the funerals of those who died is unlikely to reduce the number of lawsuits he’ll soon face. Obviously, I make no comment on what will happen in these cases – that’ll be for the courts to decide.
But one thing which can be said for certain is Scott will need an almighty treasure chest to pay his own legal expenses, not to mention the potential costs of others. So the news that Nike have decided to postpone indefinitely the Air Max 1 – a brand of sneaker they’d been working with Scott on – is unlikely to help buffer up that bank balance.
This whole palaver puts Nike in an awkward position. On the one hand, they’ll have spent hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions on this new product. Product development, advertising, materials for making the products and other expenses apply – and many will need to be paid in advance.
For all we know, there could be millions of them packed in a warehouse somewhere, waiting to be shipped out. If so, keeping them in storage is going to cost a lot of money. At a time when storage space is at a premium due to pressures in the global economy, this could not come at a worse time. And destroying millions of unused products won’t go down well with the polar bear saving brigade.
On the other hand, their marketing department can probably already see how it would play out if those sneakers appear any time soon. It wouldn’t take long for social media to be filled with memes associating the product with what happened at Astroworld. And whilst questions remain about what Scott knew and when whilst on that stage, releasing this product risks a PR disaster on a scale possibly never seen before.
Infact, if this situation drags on – and let’s face it, court cases aren’t quick at the best of times – I can honestly foresee a situation where Nike cut their losses and scrap the release of the sneakers entirely. Commercial sensitivities won’t agree to keep things on hold forever, no matter how this plays out from here.
Let’s just say anyone looking for some new sneakers might want to look elsewhere for the time being…