A Nike nation revolution
On what Nike has been doing to make this shoe brand so desirable to multiple audiences for so many generations
My partner and his friends are what you would call “Sneaker Heads,” where they have an obsession of needing to collect all the newest “kicks” or at least follow up with all the newest styles, releases and color ways. His friends have about eight pairs of Nikes or Adidas, with at least five that they don’t actually wear!
My partner will occasionally wake-up at 7:55 am to purchase limited edition shoes for Nikes or for an Adidas pair being released at 8 am. He was disappointed for multiple releases because the website almost shut down due to many consumers purchasing the products, but also to companies who have robots or computerized programs that purchase the shoes for them to sell on their websites or in their stores as well as people who purchase the shoes to sell on Ebay for an even higher price! When checking Ebay to see the price points, a shoe that was being sold for $160 would be bumped up to over $300!
How did these shoe brands become so “hyped up?” How can they sell out a $160 shoe within 10 minutes and have some people actually purchase the shoe for double or triple the price on Ebay?
According to Naomi Klein of No Logo, “Nike isn’t a running shoe company, it is about the idea of transcendence through sports”
Nike and many other large companies started to use “revolutionary imagery” in their campaigns. They realized that people wanted more than just shopping- they wanted more equality and diversity for social change. They wanted social movements.
Nike has created a movement that all people are equal in the sense where they can all build a connection with their body and fitness. It allows for a greater sense of purpose to this brand and the experiences made when wearing, or well living the brand.
Phil Knight discussed that the mission of Nike was not to sell shoes but to “enhance people’s lives through sports and fitness” and to keep “the magic of sports alive.”
Nike has a “brand vision.” They sell a style of life- a way to live, to wear, to play sports.
Above is a video that Nike had posted onto their Instagram page promoting the idea of equality. People who follow these pages then feel connected to these ideas and follow these social movements, supporting the Nike brand and choosing that brand first. This video targets those who are colored and feel powerless or discriminated, who will watch this video possibly seeking a drive or passion and feel as one with the Nike lifestyle. However, it brings us to the question of, what does this mean for the actual product? Can a shoe really make us all feel equal? I’m going to argue for no- it is simply a shoe. I believe a shoe can be comfortable or stylish and bring confidence within us. It may unite us with a few others who see you wearing the shoe and say “Hey, nice shoes- I have those too!” I believe a shoe, with that confidence, can make us play sports slightly better. But, I do not believe a shoe can bring the world together.
This brings us to the idea that Naomi Klein argues of commodities being attached to ideologies. There is the simple commercial of a great shoe in play (maybe even an famous athlete wearing it on the field, showing the potential of the athletic shoe) versus the video above which shows a social movement for people of all ethnicities and ages, bringing in famous athletes and even singers like Alicia Keys, sending the message that if equality can occur on the court or field (while of course, wearing Nike gear), then it can happen in the world outside of the court or field.
A great example of this social movement is through this billboard that I’ve seen on the freeway where you see a colored woman’s face and the word “Equality” with the Nike sign. This minimalist advertisement is supposed to “hit home” and reach deep emotions for some folks driving who see this powerful image and associate this idea of equality with the Nike sign and feel moved.
Purchasers believe that they can play any sport and believe that when wearing Nike, they are all equal. Through this brand, Nike offers an athletic American dream.
On the other end of the spectrum, many young millenials or current people in their teens into young adulthood, seek these sneaker collections for style and fashion.
Like my partner and his friends, these “sneaker heads” want to have the best color ways and designs, providing them with a particular “hip” identity. They will wake up at 7:55 am to purchase these shoes because,
- They desire that classic, developed style of Nike as a statement in fashion. Shoes like the Jordan’s are very unique and well-known, also creating that statement!
- It adds to this desire to have a “hypebeast” style (one who desires to have the latest in streetwear and hip hop fashion)
As shown, Nike has also created this other lifestyle brand for their younger audiences who believe in having the latest style of young and “hip” street wear. It is looking casual in sneakers while also making a statement that they effortlessly put together a high-end style. This advertisement photo on their Instagram (as well as many others) show people walking around LA or big cities in their Nikes as stylish casual wear.
According to Naomi Klein, these corporations think about what consumers are thinking and doing while wearing their products and bring that into their commercials!
Similarly, Adidas (Nike’s rival brand) has done a very similar lifestyle brand promoting comfortable casual running shoes (eg. UltraBoost) as streetwear. Like Nike, they also have a very promoted clothing brand that many will spend high amounts on to represent the brand and feel in-style. Through this brand, they are able to target young folks.
Both Nike and Adidas sell this idea of a young community out in the city versus the actual product of the shirt or shoe. By having this logo, millennials seek an instant purchase.
Nike has created two audiences- 1.) a lifestyle brand that reaches out to and empowers those who feel marginalized and powerless 2.) a lifestyle brand that expresses effortlessly comfortable, cool and casual, while also making a statement.
As Naomi Klein explains, we have a culture where ideas are just commodities attached to ideologies (like diversity and young communities) rather than actually connected to beliefs or actions. This leads to the ideas being devalued as well as instant purchases or products being sold out within ten minutes!