Today was the 2nd time I’d watched the new Nike ad.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a great piece of visual marketing, using real footage of inspirational sports women that have in many cases become legends in their fields.
The tagline: “It’s only crazy until you do it”. The sub-text: women are labelled “crazy” when they express raw emotion in their sport, until the day when they’re recognised for their achievements and deservedly hailed as geniuses.
I’ll be honest, the first time I saw it I got goosebumps. It did all the things a good ad should do. It grabbed my attention, made me curious, hooked me in emotionally and afterwards I felt a closer affinity to Nike. I wanted to buy some trainers.
But the 2nd time round I was thinking differently.
The ad had appeared in my Linkedin feed, promoted by someone who was coupling it’s message with the fact that it was #InternationalWomensWeek, a week leading up to this years International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day is a day dedicated to creating a more equal and just world regardless of gender. This year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter was a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.
Because of “International” Women’s Day I was viewing the ad through a different lens. I was looking at it from a global perspective, which ultimately meant thinking about some of the women who come into contact with Nike all over the world. As one of the major fast fashion brands, Nike have a pretty bad reputation for how they treat their workers. And women make up roughly 80% of Nike’s Global production.
The Guardian recently reported that in 2017 they were one of a few major brands making shoes in Cambodia where female workers were reportedly fainting due to long hours, poor working conditions and severe heat. Another search leads to news related to low wages paid at Nike factories in Asia, and an allegation from the Clean Clothes Campaign stating that garment workers in Nike factories now see even less profits from the giant than they did in the 90’s.
The thing is, I get it.
I get that Nike are a business that wants to keep growing and making profit, and that means making great ads.
I get that young people (Nike’s target demographic) care more about social issues and the environment now than the generations before them.
I get that by associating themselves with movements like #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter Nike are going to appear like a brand that cares and has a higher purpose.
I also get that even by pissing off people who don’t like their ads Nike are still winning. They’re getting engagement on their videos and regardless of whether it’s positive or negative, more engagement means more visibility.
The thing that I find hard to swallow though is the appropriation of a cause at one end of your business, when your actions at the other end are absolutely contradictory. And it’s such a big, important cause too.
Just like Gillette with their “Toxic Masculinity” ad, Nike are looking to sell more products through appearing to be woke whilst the voices of the women who make their products seemingly fall on deaf ears.
It could be so different.
Imagine if Nike truly cared about the plight of women involved in their supply chains. If they worked with factory owners and union leaders to improve working conditions, reduce incidences of mis-conduct and ensure a real living wage for all workers.
Imagine if Nike took a leading stance on the environmental impact of their production. If all of their shoes were made from sustainable materials that could be recycled or re-purposed.
Imagine if when you saw the next inspirational Nike ad you didn’t feel like you’d just been sold a lie for the sake of growth or shareholders. That they truly do have a higher purpose.
But, I fear it’s not true. And because Nike is big business with big pockets to fill, we’ll all just keep swallowing what they give us or be labelled crazy for even suggesting a different approach.
But just remember, it’s only crazy until you do it.
To learn more about WYNAD’s work, check them out here.