In a world, today where everything feels racially motivated and equality feels further away than ever, we quickly run to back those who show their support for unity. Such as the Nike equality ad, in which they use superstar athletes such as, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Serena Williams to name a few of the outspoken figures. These athletes are all at the top of their sports, and Nike uses these figures to help send the message that no matter who you are and how much money you have, you will still be viewed differently based on the color of your skin once you take the jersey off and walk outside of those four lines. The advertisement uses pathos and ethos heavily throughout the video to try and garner the viewers' attention and support by showing just how far we still must go for equal rights and opportunities in our country. The company utilizes these two devices so well, that we don't even see the many encryptions Nike subliminally uses throughout the advertisement. We run to show support so quickly that we don't always see the ulterior motives that sometimes are so clear once we step back and look again.
One of the ways the ad captures our attention immediately is with the opening scene, a black and white moving picture of run-down apartment complexes with the words, “is this the land that history promised” the phrase emphatically tugs on our heart strings right as you see how this ad is taking place in 2017. The scenes look that of the mid 1900's and with very little progression if any at all, and makes you wonder just how much we truly have progressed. It garners our attention to the lack thereof. The run-down apartment complexes also further add to the vision of this ad that even though so many years have passed, not much has changed. Nike also incorporates the black and white effect throughout the entire video to also add that in a world of equality we're still seen as one or the other. This ad is set in relatively poor areas across America. it shows that these athletes have had to overcome so much to get to the level they are at, and they still do not receive equal treatment. it also shows kids across the country that no matter what obstacles they have in life they can overcome them with hard work and passion.
The superstar athletes' mere presence in the ad adds to the credibility of the company and furthers their agenda on equality more than any words or lyrics could have accomplished. The inclusion of arguably Nike's biggest athlete LeBron James, shows just how serious they feel about this issue. LeBron, one of the most popular, outspoken athletes in the world, who regularly uses his platform to speak on inequalities and the regular disparities faced by many young black Americans, is the mainstay in the advertisement, even giving him the concluding statement “we can be equals anywhere.” The addition of Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe furthers the conversation that racial equality isn't the only inequality on the spectrum, but also gender inequality, and the inequalities faced by many LGBTQ citizens. Kevin Durant publicly announcing that he will not go to the Whitehouse after winning an NBA championship, a time-honored tradition in all American sports, simply because he did not support the president and his racist views, and his rhetoric that screams division opposed to unity. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis player to ever live, yet someone who still faces gender inequality to this day purely because she's a woman and beating other women for championships, not men. Megan Rapinoe, another athlete and Nike partner, is a LGBTQ spokesperson and someone who faces discrimination for her sexual orientation day in and day out. By putting her in this video, Nike shows no one should have to face inequity just because of who they love, and that just like gender and racially inequity, inequity based on sexual orientation is also a prominent issue in our society right now.
Often times when major fashion corporations take stands on major controversies, we forget what their true agenda is at hand. Sure, vouching for equality is an admirable thing and very popular thing to support, but we forget that at the end of the day the only thing that matters for these companies is business, and profits. We forget the daily competition these corporations go through in order to beat each other for the top spot in sales, ranking, and popularity. Nike released this equality advertisement one week after the Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, said the president was a “real asset to this country”. A comment that infuriated some of the brands biggest stars, one being Stephen Curry. Curry, when asked about the comments, said he agreed with the description of him “being a real asset to the country” but only if you removed the et from asset. The CEO faced much backlash and even distanced himself from those comments by claiming he meant he was an asset for business and nothing more. Under Armour reported a “2 percent decline in footwear sales after reporting a 58 percent increase in sales during the same period, one year prior” after these comments were made, while Nike not only increasing sales but vowing to donate 5 million dollars to organizations that promote equality. By doing this nike is showing support for all of their biggest product endorsers, but also benefitting by making millions of dollars by marketing and selling “equality” branded footwear and apparel.
Nike took a huge risk by releasing this ad. they could have alienated millions of people with this ad, but they came to the defense of their players, and they backed them up and showed them their full support. America as a country has come a long way in terms of civil rights and equality, but they still have a long way to go. Nike has helped move the train in the right direction by donating millions of dollars to underdeveloped areas and funding many scholarships in rural areas to help many minority kids who are in need. this ad really got the ball rolling and hopefully more big companies will continue to speak out towards equality like Nike did.
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