Cashing In What began as a miniscule, isolated blip on a giant corporation's no doubt hulking promotional schedule has in the last week or so become a fresh source of vitriol for angry white teenagers with computers the world over--as news that Nike had less than discreetly co-opted a painfully recognizable piece of punk iconography. Aping rather directly a design that graced the cover of no less than three Minor Threat records (crassly replacing the worn boots of the cover photo's subject with a fresh pair of swooshes--white, no less!), the clothing giant's tremendously over-paid design department tossed together a promotional campaign for a three-day East Coast demo tour for their legitimacy-starved skateboarding division.

Creatively dubbed the "Major Threat East Coast Tour," the three-date event's promotional material lifts the seminal band's logo, as well as a triple-X straight edge logo made famous by Flex Your Head, one of Dischord Record's early compilations. Ian MacKaye--the militantly anti-corporate leader of both exploited enterprises, long regarded by most as the torch-bearer of the punk ethos--is unsurprisingly miffed that a clothing giant well-known for its sweatshop labor abuses would have the audacity to blatantly co-opt his upstanding image to make a cheap buck. "To set the record straight," reads the official statement on Dischord's site, "Nike never contacted Dischord to obtain permission to use this imagery, nor was any permission granted. Simply put, Nike stole it and we're not happy about it."

The site goes on to suggest that concerned fans contact Nike directly to voice their complaints via the company's website and headquarters phone line. On Tuesday morning, Nike Skateboarding issued a brief statement of apology to "Minor Threat, Dischord, and fans of both," explaining, "Because of the album's strong imagery and because our East Coast tour ends in Washington DC, we felt that it was a perfect fit. This was a poor judgment call and should not have been executed without consulting Minor Threat and Dischord Records" and insuring that "every effort has been made to remove and dispose of all flyers." (The release also went on to exonerate local ad firm Wieden & Kennedy from any involvement in the campaign.) Just whether the band/label will have any legal recourse seems questionable, considering that Nike and their lawyers will likely claim their gross lack of creativity (not to mention shoddy font work) as a mark of parody--the same sort of defense that, ironically, has long allowed punk bands to poke fun at corporate iconography.