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Nike's new split-screen ad has opinions split both internally at Nike, as well as offending some of the consumers they'd hope to attract.
The commercial uses a tried execution idea of split-screen editing, but at an editing level that is sure to rake home the awards as it's really impressive and absolutely magical to watch.
The connected chants, the bouncing tennis stars, the teams lining up, every athlete here feels so beautifully connected in each shot, which should lead us neatly to the end line "you can't stop US" and leave us with a cozy feeling of togetherness. But, at some point LeBron James and Megan Rapinoe speak in near unison, “We have a responsibility to make this world a better place.” which seems like a mnemonic rather than their own ideals when spliced together. This is also where we see teams using their US constitutional rights to kneel while the US anthem plays and to wear "black lives matter" t-shirts. We also see a modest Muslim woman in a niqab, skateboarding before the split-screen transforms this into a person with a "pride" rainbow gas flag continuing the skating move. It's a lot of political symbolism packed into each scene, aimed to include everyone, but the reaction isn't what Nike had hoped.
Internally, Nike's employees weren't fans of the ad, and according to this article in the Financial Times, they raised concerns while it was still in development, asking management “to publicly acknowledge the company’s own internal shortcomings on equality before promoting the ideal to consumers.”
In June, Nike CEO John Donahoe wrote in a letter to staff he understood that “many have felt a disconnect between our external brand and your internal experience. You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognised and celebrated our own black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change.”
Externally, Muslims are reacting to the scene with the skateboarder, offended that the clothing of the sunnah is used as a costume because the disconnect between being a modest Muslim woman and skateboarding is too jarring. To add insult to injury, this is edited together with the LGBTQ person.
"How dare they connect a political idea to our image! Did they ask niqabi women if they are OK being depicted as being hand in hand with the LGBT movement?! " was but one of the upset Muslim comments left on the Youtube of the ad.
So it's clear now, both to insiders and outsiders, that Nike is simply using the political chants and causes as fashion accessories, without cleaning their own stoop first.
The best thing about the US and the constitution is that they added the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery over 150 years ago, but that wasn't enough. The US felt so strongly about the problems with slavery that they also passed the Tariff Act of 1930. Section 307 of the law prohibits “the importation of merchandise mined, produced or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced or indentured labor—including forced child labor.” Banning slavery abroad too, and “such merchandise is subject to exclusion and/or seizure, and may lead to criminal investigation of the importer(s).”
China’s Uyghur ethnic and religious Muslim minority are being used as forced labour making Nike sneakers among other brand names. Yet Nike has gotten away with it, using Muslim women in their ads (because they are easily visually identifiable), while ignoring the plight of the Uyghur's who make the product. Using the kneeling athletes with BLM shirts in their ads, again easy to identify visually, without doing anything internally in regards to the staffing of their own offices.
This advert is a prime example of preaching without sincerity. Wearing wokepoints as a badge without doing anything to make real changes. And it's going to cost Nike in the long run, because gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddist or whatever - nobody likes a hypocrite.
Sports celebrities featured among others: Megan Rapinoe, Serena Williams, Lebron James, Naomi Osaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Baker.