Nike Refuses to Remove “Dope” and “Get High” T-Shirts From Boston Window Display

Nike is refusing Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s request that the company remove a window display with T-shirts that say “Dope” and “Get High” in one of their stores.

The mayor asked the Niketown store in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood to remove the T-shirts, saying they contain drug references and profanity that “are out of keeping with the character of Boston’s Back Bay, our entire city, and our aspirations for our young people…not to mention common sense,” the Boston Herald reports. The shirts also feature pill bottles, according to the article.

In a statement, the company said, “In no way does Nike condone the use of banned or illegal substances. This is about sport and being authentic to action sports. The shirts are part of an action sports campaign, featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expression for performance at the highest level of their sport, be it surfing, skate or BMX.”

59 Responses to Nike Refuses to Remove “Dope” and “Get High” T-Shirts From Boston Window Display

  1. sara gilbert | June 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Dear Nike: how to have fewer customers. Encourage young ones to think “dope” and “high” are cute and acceptable. They either spend all their money on dope and getting high, or just die young- and ta-DA – fewer customers! Not to mention the current ones you simply offend and outrage. No more nike for me, mine, or my classes – Try responsibility!

  2. C D'agostino | June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    This is very irresponsible of Nike. The shirts should be pulled immediately.

    • Rhonda King | June 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      I think you Nike should take a look at what they are selling to these young children and adults in this society.This is no joke we have a real problem with drug addiction. I find this very offensive. I say get these shirts off the shelves and out of the windows, I am sure Nike isn’t hurting that bad for money or are they ???? I will never buy Nike products again Come on people put the trash where it belongs in the dumpster..RPK

  3. Melissa Weiksnar | June 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I called NIKE at 1-800-344-6453 to register my dismay. Said dope is a slang for heroin, and my daughter died at 20 from an overdose. She was an athlete and wore NIKE apparel. I encouraged NIKE to take leadership on this national epidemic rather than stoop so low, and listen to employees who also have been impacted by this disease — the woman who took my call admitted her family had been impacted. Please call if you are so inclined, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. PT, M – F

    • Ann Gilbert | June 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Melissa, thank you for providing the Nike phone number. It made it easy for me to make a call as well. I reached customer service to register my opinion that Nike is usually above this kind of advertising and has a responsibility to youth to not promote Dope and High. I also stated that I expect Nike to respond to a community request to remove these items from display and from the market. Ann

    • Sherry Sims | June 24, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Thank you Melissa for your statement. I totally agree…No more Nike for me, children or grandchildren. I’m calling Nike!!

    • Get real | January 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      Your daughter’s death had nothing to do with Nike and everything to do with her own life, which you were a part of. I am sorry for your loss, but the fault does not lie with a shirt, but more likely (and this may or may not be your situation) it lies with parenting.

      Please put responsibility where it lies, if not, you’re just raising more addicts.

      • Straight Talk | July 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm

        (Get Real) She didn’t say the shirt caused her daughters death. Advertising is powerful and Nike is an advertising giant. She was reporting concern over the message they send.

  4. sara gilbert | June 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    A culture that encourages young people to think “dope” and “high” are cute and acceptable is not one that honors athletic values. What is thes compnay thinking?!

  5. Roger Macauley | June 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    If Nike has to explain its position then the campaign is a failure. Even if one is familiar with the expressions and the campaign, the element of endorsement of the sub culture is there.It is the Nod and Wink mind set. The expressions may well indeed be used by thos within the very limited reality of the sport but that does not make the expressions acceptable.

  6. Elizabeth | June 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Give me a break. No one is going to become a heroin addict because of these t-shirts. Find a better way to address the drug problem and addiction that doesn’t involve putting energy into complaining about a t-shirt.

    • OK | May 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

      sad to think some don’t realize it takes an entire community to work together to solve big issues such as substance abuse, a company as big as Nike could do the world a lot of service, by setting good intentions and making t-shirts with really positive messages, the more the shirts are seen, the more the message gets out…i think we should work together to help save our youth!

    • Get real | January 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      AMen. Great comment

  7. Joan Kiley | June 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I just called Nike at the number Melissa gave and expressed my feelings about how mind boggling it was that Nike didn’t care enough about the community to respond positively to the mayor’s request. And how they need to be responsive to community need and interested in building healthy communities, not “doped” or “high” ones. The guy who answered my call said they’d had a number of calls and were doing their best to pass on the info where it needed to go. So Thanks Melissa for that number.

  8. JB | June 23, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Really, Nike…Really???

  9. Larry | June 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hey Elizabeth.
    Might you suggest how to find a better way to address drug problems and addiction? I’m all ears. You complain about individuals raising a concern but offer no solution yourself… This is as silly to defend as a 420 t-shirt.

  10. Caleb McKean | June 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I dont believe they should have to remove the shirt. It infringes upon their constitutional right to freedom of speech. Next thing you know I have to throw out my I Learned From Lesbians shirt and my I Love Abortion shirts. Not only that but its a pretty dope shirt.

    • Jason | July 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      You are ignorant of the Constitution, Caleb. In order for this to be an infringement on their constitutional right of free speech there must first be government action to limit, ban, or control their speech. No such thing has occurred. Rather, we’ve exercised our right and responsibility to engage in free speech.

  11. Caleb McKean | June 24, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I think that its ridiculous that these shirts are being seen as displaying drug references. They are clearly expressions that are used in sports. Maybe everybody should get high on sports instead of drugs that would be pretty dope.

  12. Debby | June 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I work with junior high students providing drug prevention education. I talk to kids about finding their natural high and not using drugs for a high. For some of those kids sports is their high and most people including many of those kids are NOT familiar with Nike’s campaign. It only appears that Nike is promoting “drugs” and getting “high”. I am helping with the drug problem, what are you doing to help? Nike is making my job and the job of parents more difficult. I will be calling Nike!

    • Trisha DeLozier | July 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Well put Debby!

  13. Caleb McKean | June 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

    If you really look at it from Nike’s perspective they have invested a said amount of dollars in the production of these shirts. Knowing Nike and the dope company that they are they probably already discontinued the production of these shirts because of the controversy its causing in the U.S due to the drug epidemic but for Nike to pull the attire from the shelves would cause a Net Loss in sales and that would damage their bottom line.

  14. Robert | June 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

    So everyone who uses the terms dope and get high are talking about drugs or making kids think about using? So when I said “That car is dope.” It made someone think about using? Give me a break.

    • Chris | August 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Robert, don’t talk about dope and high to a grieving parent. Have you lost a child to addiction? I don’t think so, because if you did you would see that these t-shirts are offensive.

    • Sean | June 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Well, when they use the term “dope” and then have a bottle of pills below it I’m not sure what other message we are supposed to get other then drugs.

      Surprises me with the whole Lance Armstrong issue that they would even go there..

      • Joshua | June 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

        don’t be so suprised, back in the 70′s when the original article was published, not many people had heard of lance armstrong.

  15. Fern Webb | June 24, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Caleb, Nike is big enough that they can take a hit on their bottom line. Who cares about that? Care about the message it sends to kids. I have never heard of this campaign either. I just see some really odd t-shirts under a name brand I am now reluctant to trust. Who thought of this stuff?

  16. Debby | June 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Yes, Robert I would think of drugs. If I heard you I would ask you what you mean by that? Then I would say why do you use a word that refers to drugs what do you mean??? what? “sweat”, “nice”,”ugly” or “junk”? Use words which are appropriate and understood by most people. Look in an English language dictionary? What is the definition of dope?

  17. Joe | June 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Obviously the “Thought Police” are once again hard at work shredding the Bill of Rights and principles under which this nation was founded in pursuit of their short-sighted prohibitionist policies with little concern as it relates to the bigger picture; mitigating the harm caused to the indivdiual and society due to irresponsible drug use.

    • Marcia Kirschbaum | June 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm

      Yeah Joe! Thank God there are some sane people in this world! Those of you who think Nike has crossed the line – News Flash: “The War on Drugs” is a complete, abysmal failure. Alcohol Prohibition had the same results as this ridiculousness call the Drug War. Obviously drug users will use drugs whether it’s illegal or not and if we were to at least decriminalize and regulate it, we wouldn’t have half the problems this war is causing and the money now spent treating drug addicts like murderer’s and rapists could go a very long way toward education and rehab. Time to start thinking about it guys.

    • Margo | June 28, 2011 at 8:54 am

      We are not talking about mandating Nike to remove the shirts and thus infringing on their rights; we are talking about appealing to their common sense and good will. Just as if they initiated a campaign incorporating the word ‘rape’ some of us, at least, would be unhappy. It’s the whole advertising concept of pushing the limits and appealing to a wider audience, I think. Never mind that they now have offended some of their existing market share.

      • Marcia Kirschbaum | July 1, 2011 at 12:54 am

        Major difference between “Rape ” and “Dope” One constitutes violence against another, the other is a personal act involving no violence against another and please don’t go off on the “drug users cause crimes” rant, cause that’s much more true of alcohol and no one seems to have a problem with a PBR or Jack Daniels t-shirt. Also don’t go on a “harming yourself” theme. Although this is true, if we really cared about that we’d stop doing drug switching as “treatment” for drug abuse.

  18. Stephan | June 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Let us be reasonable. Are billions of kids going to go get high on Vicodin after seeing the shirt? No. Should we still be concerned? Yes. We in the prevention community resent these shirts because they (most likely unintentionally) normalize drug culture and ignoring the serious consequences of drug abuse. We have watched drugs destroy lives and families…so can you really blame us when we get a bit offended? True, “dope” and “high” are popular colloquialisms now, but come on…a bottle of pills? And this is not an issue of freedom of speech. Nike is just trying to make some cash with a thinly veiled attempt to pander to drug culture. Consumers have the right to protest commercial products which they find offensive.

    • Shari | April 20, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Well written and expressed, Stephan. As a drug education instructor for 13 years, I fully agree with your statement. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Terri | June 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Shame on Nike for being so stupid and irresponsible. Making drug use seem “cool” in any way is a crime when we’re trying so hard to keep our young people from wasting their lives. I’m happy to add Nike to my “do not patronize” list.

  20. A Hockenbrock | June 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    If you have to ask about the message or the saying then the ad was not meant for you. It is intended for action sports fans. They get it and they use the “high” and “dope” referring to their sport and not to drugs.

    Would you suggest changing “Coke”?

  21. Bob | June 25, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Joe, Objecting to NIKE’s campaign is mitigating the harm caused by irresponsible drug use. NIKE can and has done better in its ad work. It does not need to refer to DOPE or GET HIGH to sell its wares. Just because one can say and or do what our Constitution allows does not mean one needs to do so when it may advocate destructive or detrimental results from the advocated behavior. Minds, young or old, have more to gain from positive messages instead of DOPE-y ones. NIKE needs to stop this.

  22. Carlos | June 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Nike, can do whatever they want. I will bet you money. That they will not loose any market or lower their sales because of this contraversy.

  23. Marcia Kirschbaum | June 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    This is nothing compared to the flood of commercials in every imaginable form – T.V., magazines, bus stop benches, internet ads, radio … from Big Pharma. Isn’t the outrage here misplaced?

    • Steve Westen | June 27, 2011 at 11:25 am


    • Carlos | June 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Marcia Kirschbaum | June 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm
      This is nothing compared to the flood of commercials in every imaginable form – T.V., magazines, bus stop benches, internet ads, radio … from Big Pharma. Isn’t the outrage here misplaced?—————————————————————————
      This remind me of the time that Bush were telling us that the Taliban where growing (I think it was) something like 70% of all of the Opium grown in Afghanistan to developed terrorism etc etc etc. What he fail to tell us that the other 30% was being grown by our buddies the Northern Alliance.
      I am pretty sure that who are paying attention to this advertisement are us. And the kids probably have not even notice it.

      • Marcia Kirschbaum | July 1, 2011 at 1:11 am

        Carlos, our kids are certainly paying attention to these commercials, even if they don’t realize it. I remember quite clearly the first time I knew my then 17 yr old son was high. When he finally confessed to having taken a bar of Xanax he said “I don’t know why you’re so upset. It’s not like I’m doing real drugs. This is a prescription from a doctor.” The drug commercials that get played a 1,000 times a day on every TV channel are almost entirely for Psychotropic Drugs and insinuate that if you don’t feel great all the time, that’s not normal and Prozac or Celibrex or whatever, is the magic cure. We’re starting our babies on drugs like Ritalin when they’re only a few years old and this particular class of drugs is extremely dangerous, causing suicidal and homicidal thoughts and violent outbursts. The kids involved in EVERY notorious shooting, like Columbine and Virginia Tech. was on Psychotropic Drugs. We really have our priorities screwed up here and Nike’s T-shirts are far from being the problem we face.

  24. E.J. | June 27, 2011 at 8:47 am

    As the mother of a teenage athlete and an active family, I take offence to this type of marketing and you can be sure that there will be no purchasing of Nike apparel in our home.

  25. Steve Westen | June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    People wouldn’t need to worry about somethign like free speach, if they actually invested time and effort into their children. If your child is influenced enough to do drugs, simply by a t-shirt slogan… then you failed as a parent… which is what the real issue here is. People just don’t want to parent their children enough to help them make a decision to not use drugs or alcohol. I knew from a young age what drugs and alcohol were, the effects they had on people and what to do when I was around them. My parents didn’t rely on the government or society to protect me from outside influences, they did it them selves. So stop trying to control everyone else and try controlling yourself!

  26. Linda | June 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I agree with everyone who says that NIKE is being irresponsible. BECAUSE THEY ARE!!! If I saw a t shirt or sign that said DOPE or Get High, I would think of drugs and how that message is being portrayed to our kids. That is just me. I have worked in the field of alcohol and drugs for 7 yrs trying to educate and bring awareness to the dangerous effects of drugs and alcohol. It is “not cool” to joke, laugh or make comments about being high, using weed or getting stoned. Drugs destroy families. Show some corporate responsibility and safe guard our kids.

  27. Barbara | June 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    This is the message we are sending to the younger generation. Don’t buy NIKE.

  28. Barbara | June 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    What a message for the younger generation. Don’t buy a nike product

  29. Toni Vasconcelos | June 29, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Are you kidding me????? NIKE is obviously promoting the use of the drugs with this campaign… I don’t care how you position it… NIKE is very irresponsible and I will never buy NIKE again if there motto is to push drugs in a very slight of hand trick to our children….. SHAME ON YOU! even if you pull it, which you better, you still got what you wanted which was press… i hope you can all sleep well at night knowing the subliminal messages you are sending to our youth is negative…
    Thank YOU!!!

  30. Stephanie | June 30, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I agree with most of the comments here. For those I disagree with, I have 3 main points:
    1. Prescription drug abuse has escalated into the problem that it is among young people, largely because they perceive such drugs to be “safe.” As a company that has historically promoted things consistent with health, accomplishment, and self-betterment, Nike needs not to reinforce this misperception and further normalize prescription drug abuse.
    2. No one is suggesting that parents acquiesce and government take control, simply that a reputable corporation should recognize its broad sphere of influence and use it to build up, not to tear down.
    3. It’s easy to say no one will become an addict because of a t-shirt, and that sounds reasonable. I’d actually like to agree with it, but it’s baseless. The real scientific evidence points to the fact that t-shirts and other media have a huge impact on what is perceived as normal and acceptable.

  31. Sherry | July 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

    It appears the shirts at not online at either Nike.Com or FYI

  32. Trisha DeLozier | July 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    This whole thing is about NIKE doing the right thing. Advertising slang such as that and “Pill Bottles” which I personally work against on a daily basis just isn’t in the best interest of our youth or some adults as apparent by some of these responses. No one is trying to shut anyone up but you who don’t think it’s a problem forget that we who don’t agree with you have the right to voice our opinions without being told we are basically ignorant. Marcia are you taking prescription drugs?

  33. Judy | July 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I just called NIKE on their customer comment line, and they told me that as of June 30th that particular promotional line had been ‘concluded’ and those products are no longer available for purchase, and that they regret that the public ‘misunderstood the message’ of that line. Ha! Funny way to put it. I’m not impressed, and will still encourage my 14-year-old not to buy Nike products.

  34. wildrat holland | September 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    As long as Coca is linked to cola and not to cocaïne, it,’s just a temporary display of Nike. As long as you buy it, Nike will promote nearly Amy test.

  35. Michael | October 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Here is what we should be concerned about: ignorance.

    Dope: from dopamine . . . the common denominator to all drug use.
    Also, from heroin . . . the stuff is created specifically to rapidly cross the blood brain barrier, thus more rapidly affecting dopamine, thus it is more dope.
    Dope is used to describe anything that FEELS great. Drug high, runners high, the high I assume you get when you land a combination of difficult skill level tricks on a skate board.

    Finally: NIKE is not promoting drug use you dope, it is promoting natural high’s (i.e. the release of dopamine) through alternative sports. In today’s world, that seems like an extremely responsible promotion. Look closely at the pill bottle on the shirt. It’s not full of pills like the one in your medicine cabinet.

    p.s. your kid probably gets it.

  36. Debra Rincon Lopez | October 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Maybe it’s the Wrong message that he’s not UNDERSTANDING? I don’t think that NIKE is as dumb as they think? NIKE comes from OREGON State where I live, we are way ahead of alot of the USA in all things, this is just another one of them, ADVERTISING means RESTRAINMENT.

  37. Beelz | July 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Im trying to get some of those shirts. They look pretty dope. Yeah, I get where Nikes coming from with this clothing line. Maybe because I’m under the age of 40?

  38. Christine Duncan | May 31, 2013 at 11:45 am

    NO MORE NIKE!! How can they be so irresponsible?

  39. Yvonne Robinson | August 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    These drug shirts are disturbing to me. I have already had a subtle, subconcious aversion to some of the the Nike apparel lately. I think I saw several shirts in the mall that were…well..not best for kids. Many of the parents who pay big bucks for Nike clothing are responsible adults. You need us. Clean up your act!

  40. dave | December 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Good for them! Censorship STINKS.
    If you don’t like the message, don’t buy the product. Let them sink (or swim) based on their own choices even if those choices are socially idiotic.

    Maybe the mayor should spend more time on the war on drugs and rehabilitation facilities instead of pop icons that are a result, not a cause.

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