“If we can be equals in sport, we can be equals everywhere” — Nike

Nike released a strong message in support of equality this week. The video comes after announcing partnerships with MENTOR and PeacePlayers International to put change into action on the community level. Nike expressed the company’s commitment to the ideals of diversity and inclusion, which highlights Nike’s leadership in corporate social responsibility. In a capitalist society, it is largely important for corporations to practice social responsibility. There may still be unfair labor practices down the supply chain of Nike, but the company’s influence on culture around the world cannot be overlooked. In 2016, Nike was number six on Fortune’s Change The World list, proving the sportswear brand is capable of improving the condition of the world along with increasing business (a win-win). Although Nike made the list for the company’s strives in environmental impact, I believe the company’s history of using the power of the Nike brand to speak out in favor of moving the ideals of diversity and inclusion forward have contributed to the success and sustainability of the brand. The “Equality” video made me think back to Nike’s history of powerful social change messages, including those supporting women and transgender athletes. Below are a few of my favorites from my lifetime:

1995

(Nike)
(Ross Knights)

1999

(Nike)
(Nike)

I am a soccer player, so Mia Hamm was my role model growing up. I feel fortunate to have had such an inspiring athlete to look up to while I was young; the generation before me did not have the group of women that formed the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team that inspired an increasing number of young girls to aspire for athletic greatness.

2000s

(miramiramira.com)

As a woman with thunder thighs, I especially related to this campaign pushing forward acceptance of the muscular bodies female athletes have built through training. Yes, media has too much power in affecting body image, but ads like these that challenge society’s definition of femininity really help to push forward the body positive movement.

(Idealista)
(miramiramira.com)
(theinspirationroom.com)
(LisaLeslie)
(Álvaro Salcedo)
(Nike)
(Nike)
(Nike)

These campaigns all challenged the gender stereotypes and pushed forward the conversation on sexism in sport. Some addressed the intersection of gender and race, as well. With Nike’s strong platform, the brand is bringing awareness to the obstacles minorities face in sport. The exposure and diverse representation in media is vital for gains toward a more equal society. Of course there are deeper analyses of the advertisements and the effects they have on society, but as a consumer these are the types of ads that make me feel empowered as a woman and as an athlete. Thank you Nike and the people behind the ads, Wieden + Kennedy.

“Advertising is so fascinating, because it’s both a mirror of the culture and it moves culture forward. I think the best advertising…taps into a direction that we are moving in, but we are not there yet, and it helps take us there…I think we’ve gotten a lot better at doing that…in tapping into where they [women] are moving next.” — Denise Fedewa, Senior Vice President at LeoShe

References:

Fedewa, D. & Fischer, E. (2003). Interview with Denise Fedewa. Advertising & Society Review 4(4), Advertising Educational Foundation. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from Project MUSE database.

Fortune. (2016). How These 50 Companies Are Changing the World. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://beta.fortune.com/change-the-world/list

Nike. (2015, April 15). Nike Puts Women Front and Center for 40 Years and Counting. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://news.nike.com/news/nike-women-advertising-a-40-year-journey