Criticism of Nike Unjustified

Nike responded to public outcry about homophobic undertones in its recent ad campaign for Hyperdunk shoe, by pulling a series of ads posted around New York that show a player’s head between a dunker’s legs as he leaps over the player with the new Nike shoes. It’s the latest episode in an overly public correct world.

No matter if its gay rights, womens rights, or any other rights, I’m in favor of exercising them when appropriate, not in this matter. Wieden and Kennedy, the ad firm, and Nike, clearly had no intention of making light of homophobia in sports. The message was how these shoes can make your opponent look silly while you leap over them, or outrebound them, as other ads in the campaign showed. Attacking innocent parties is not the way to defend your rights and build credibility.

Typically, Nike would deserve criticism for pushing the envelope enough for societal questions to even come up, but they don’t deserve fault in this case. When you heard Imus’ comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team last, his defamation was clear. When I saw this Nike ad, infringing on gay rights did not immediately come to mind, though I did cringe because it does look awkward.

Could and should Nike do a better job, yes. Even if undeserved, the publicity is never good. Pulling ads early never looks good. I commend them for acting quickly to defuse the situation, minimizing the public outcry. In the future, Nike, and any companies, are advised to avoid anything that is borderline controversial. But haven’t they already received enough warnings, yet it still keeps happening. Because it’s not blatant, perhaps gay rights organizations could have approached Nike in a more direct, less public manner to advise about the ad, and allow Nike to react before creating a media blitz.

By walking the line of political correctness, whether they planned to or not, Nike drew buzz for the new sneaker. By defusing the controversy before it snow balled, most of the public is now just left with the sneaker on their mind. WIll it translate to sales? Remains to be seen.

2 Responses

  1. Unless you’ve ever been called “faggot” “Homo” or any of the other names negatively associated with being gay or unless you’ve ever experienced discrimination, then you are not qualified to discuss this issue. Open your mind to the fact words don’t hurt, it’s how they’re used that does. Everyday people of the GLBT community have to worry about being ridiculed or even killed for who you are, then I don’t expect you would understand.

  2. Every person is at risk of discrimination, racial, cultural, or social. Living in the wrong neighborhood could put someone in a discriminatory situation. Point is, Nike was not discriminating in this case.

    Do I think they should I ran the campaign? No, its obviously borderline, and second of all I don’t think its very good. The pictures are actually disturbing even if you look beyond the homophobic discrimination. Should it became a major public issue? No. Handle it tactfully and privately – both sides.

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