about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (6)

  • Dabitch's picture

    michael gebert wrote:

    Now, I know what you’re thinking—where can I get a total pushover client like that? But there’s a bigger issue here—ad agency malpractice. If there is such a thing, this wasn’t it.

    Salon called it the ad from hell.

    Mar 14, 2004
  • AnonymousCoward's picture
    AnonymousCoward (not verified)

    Just For Feet made its own blunders as well, though the Saatchi ad certainly didn't help matters. You really gotta wonder how this got to the point where it actually played on tv. Didn't anyone notice that it was iffy, or did everyone suffer from nurse's syndrome (where you assume whatever's being done is ok because someone 'more important' said so, the way nurses will usually administer medications as per doctor's orders even if it seems wrong/unusual)?

    Mar 15, 2004
  • John J's picture
    John J (not verified)

    My understanding was that the client Just For Feet did object a few times, but that Saatchi kept insisting and eventually wore them down. I'm a consultant, and if I advise my client to do something, and they object and I do it anyway, I am liable if it goes wrong. In fact I'm wrong even if they don't object and I'm negligent and do something stupid. The only time I'm not responsible is if I advise my client not to do something and they do it anyway.

    Saatchi & Saatchi was a marketing consultant, they weren't paid simply to film and edit a commercial, they were paid to create positive awareness of their client, and they failed in that and should have been held fully responsible. It's really too bad Just For Feet went bankrupt essentially killing any chance of that.

    To be honest, I can't even really tell what the add is trying to say. Are the white hunters the Client hunting down the black customer in need? Like the guy looks like he is mortified when he wakes up to find his feet imprisoned in shoes, how is that even a positive thing from a purely marketing standpoint. They put shoes on the guys feet and he screams "nooooooo!". Is it just me?

    Jan 20, 2015
  • sport's picture

    You're a consultant and you spell ad, singular, as "add"?

    Apr 15, 2015
  • Frog Price's picture
    Frog Price (not verified)

    This began the downfall of a company which was a shell to begin with

    Jul 01, 2017
  • Dabitch's picture


    From USA Today 2/3/2006

    The Super Bowl is the wrong place to show cultural insensitivity. That's what critics accused the now-defunct shoe retailer Just for Feet of doing in 1999, with an ad that showed white hunters tracking down a barefoot black African runner and forcing him into Nikes.

    The ad took such grief that Just For Feet briefly sued its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, for $10 million, but eventually dropped the lawsuit.

    from Just For Feet: The rise and fall of a superstar april 2 2000

    Management must not ignore the basic principle that growth should not be more rapid than the organization's ability to manage it.

    Just For Feet's expansion contributed, at least in part, to its huge debt and out-of-control inventory.

    When it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 1999, it had just missed an interest payment of $12 million on $200 million in debt.

    In addition, it owed two of its major suppliers -- Nike and Reebok -- more than $19 million.

    Growth creates its own problems, and once the growth wheel is put in motion, it recycles itself to even more problems.

    Sometimes we believe that "growth is the solution to the problems of growth."

    Thus, we labor under the naive belief that we only need to get to the next stage of growth to solve the organization's present problems.

    As Just For Feet discovered, each new stage of growth brings its own set of problems, some of which may prove unsolvable.

    Implication: Don't grow just for the sake of growing; grow for the sake of making money for your shareholders.

    Jul 01, 2017