Nike is paying homage to... Or plagiarising?

Minor Theft - over at Pitchforkmedia one can see comparisons between Minor Threats cover art and a current Nike poster. Both carry the high contrast image of a bald shaven guy sitting with his head in his arms in a staircase. Both have the words running down the right in block text: "Minor Threat" vs "Major Threat".

"You don't need a degree in graphic design to notice the similarities here. They're the fucking same. Oh, wait-- one is blue, not red. And Major, not Minor. And there are some Nike logos tossed in there. This brings to mind an interview with Vanilla Ice, defending the differences between "Ice Ice Baby" and "Under Pressure" ("dun dun dun duh-duh-duh dun" vs. "DUN dun dun dun duh-duh-duh dun")."

 A rep from Discord records replied when PitchforkMedia asked "Did Nike ask permission" with :

"No, they stole it and we're not happy about it. Nike is a giant corporation which is attempting to manipulate the alternative skate culture to create an even wider demand for their already ubiquitous brand. Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission. It's disgusting."

The Major Threat Skateboard tour dates can be found on Nike's site Nike skateboarding where the "homage" artwork serves as a punk-nod tour poster. Is it parody? Is it a homage? Is it a lazy art director? Is it, in fact, the entire idea to evoke the punk album cover? What do you think? Thanks to salmonberry who emailed me the pitchfork link and hat tip to me3dia at Metafilter for the gossip.


If you like ogling at twin album cover art, see also Badland does album covers, the superb website called The Knockoff project which aims to collect as many twin covers as possible, and these over at WaitingforLoise.

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blondino's picture

It really has very little to do with this, but "major threat" is far more popular than "minor threat" on Googlefight.

Dabitch's picture

Moahahaha, I love that toy! :)

As far as this poster-parody/homage thing goes I think Nikes spoof here is perfectly legal. But I am not a lawyer.

AnonymousCoward's picture

i think "homage" always has something to do with "asking" the guys before stealing (i mean as long as they

AnonymousCoward's picture

btw. i found another "homage"


Dabitch's picture

Oooooh.. I like it. Is that in Germany ........or a photoshop job? :) Or both? :P

James Trickery's picture

Funny! Much better in fact. Nike should do that.

AnonymousCoward's picture

hehe .. look at the img-source: it

Plywood's picture

If they didn't get permission, that'd be plagiarism 101, and Nike will be writing a settlement cheque.

AnonymousCoward's picture

It's pagiarism because it's Nike. If it was a tiny independent one-person creative guerilla hotshop, posted on a rad design web site, then it would be "ironic": if it was caught momentarily in a scene from a just-outta-film-school, no-budget, handheld wobblyfest, then it would be a "sly homage". It all comes down to who's doing the stealing and how big they are, The intent is alweays going to be murky.

Mind you, the intent on this one looks real cheap.

But, you know, more interesting than all the similarity betweeen the two images are the differences -- it's the differences in the images that tell the real story. The dirt and verite from the minor threat image have gone and been replaced with....nothing, blankness, flatness. And the telling change in the angle of the bowed head (from a meaningful angle redolent of exhaustion and beat, to a straight plane/plain speaking of....nothing): there's your story.

Dabitch's picture

Dr.Uneasy - right on.

Congrats to Pitchfork Media who made it into the New York Times with this story. ;)

Alec Bourgeois, a Dischord employee, said Minor Threat and Dischord were still considering their legal options.

"We got inundated with e-mails saying 'Sue Nike,' " he said. "We're flattered by the outrage. I don't think Nike understood that people care so much about this ethos."

That was published July 4, that is after the Nike apology.

AnonymousCoward's picture

blatant plagarism!

of course it is plagariam -- nike is a mega corporation. they are gonna make major $ on this.

bottomline, by seeding the youth skateboard market with imagery from minor threat's seminal 80s hardcore-skate-punk e.p., nike is cashing in on the coolness evoked by their visual (not contractual) association with one of the most esteemed subculture hardcore bands in american history.

nike wants evoke cool, hip, edgy, and disenchanted. exactly what minor threat means to these young skate punks.

if nike wants that association, they need to pay for it -- not just rip it off and hope that no one notices.