It wasn't much of a surprise to see Nike (NYSE:NKE) terminate its contract with Michael Vick over the weekend. It's also not much of a surprise to see Nike go in an entirely different promotional direction, with its newest marketing campaign showcasing female athletes.

Then again, letting Vick go after his dog-fighting indictment will cost Nike. It's not just losing a tarnished spokesman. The company was all set to roll out the Air Zoom Vick V sneaker this summer -- the fifth Vick-branded footwear for Nike -- until the allegations and legal implications began to intensify.

No company wants to align itself with a confessed dog-killer, especially a company that makes shoes for people who take their dogs out for a walk.

And Nike isn't the only company that leaned on Vick as a celebrity endorser. The suspended quarterback has also pitched for the likes of Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Rawlings, and AirTran (NYSE:AAI). However, Nike was the last company to bail on him.

Major brands take chances when they tap spokesmen. They bank on young, rich players to do the right thing, even if fame and fortune often warps their sense of reality.

So Nike's latest campaign stars prominent female athletes, including Serena Williams, Picabo Street, Gabrielle Reece, and Mia Hamm, sending out a positive message of women in sports.

Sure, it's the obvious PC-centric approach. Ever since radio host Don Imus uttered disparaging words about the Rutgers women's basketball team on CBS (NYSE:CBS), sticking up for female athletes is a celebrated cause.

You can't knock Nike for that. Brand marketing is about sending the right message to the masses.

Other Vick picks:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is sure that he has a pair of Nike sneakers somewhere. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy and a love for canines.