Rob Walker wrote a great article this past weekend on the reverse appropriation of brands by street culture, another version of brand hijacking.
Mike is an example of the sometimes porous border between brands and their fans and how hard it is to nail down who "owns" what. Susan Scafidi, a Southern Methodist University law professor, examines such questions in "Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law." In an interview, she compared the Mike brand to the "fan fiction" that some Star Trek enthusiasts write, in effect building new content (and new communities) out of somebody else's intellectual property. While Nike, Converse and the Jordan brand "have given the consumer a vocabulary of style," Scafidi says, at least part of the "meaning" of sneaker brands today has been defined by consumers who turned athletic shoes into a staple of contemporary street fashion - a phenomenon explored in the recent documentary "Just for Kicks."