Nike and Women in Sports

We are all familiar with Nike’s “simple” and ever famous swoosh logo. But consider the advertising below and consider these questions: What defines Nike as a brand? What is their message? What are you buying when you decide to purchase a Nike product?

What is Brand?

Brand is your strategy.
Brand is your communication tools.
Brand is your call to action.
Brand is your customer service.
Brand is the way you speak.
Brand is your people and facilities.
Brand is your logo and visuals, too.

Nike and Women in Sports

In the early 90’s, Nike ran a series of advertisements focused on women. Janet Champ became the lead copywriter on the Nike account and provided powerful motivational text. Her copy told girls ‘You do not have to be your mother, unless she is who you want to be’, ‘There is absolutely no place to go but up’, and ‘A woman can stop waiting for her stupid prince to come and go for a nice long run instead.’

Instead of presenting idealistic images of beauty or traditional female roles, Nike’s copy was a call to arms to look at who you are, not who you look like. In Art & Copy (2009) Dan Wieden recalls a reaction from a woman who had torn out one of the ads from a magazine, handed it to her daughter and said ‘That’s what I was trying to tell you.’

The full ad:

The text:

“YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR MOTHER unless she is who you want to be. You do not have to be your mother’s mother, or your mother’s mother’s mother, or even your grandmother’s mother on your father’s side. You may inherit their chins or their hips or their eyes, but you are not destined to become the women who came before you. You are not destined to live their lives. So if you inherit something, inherit their strength, their resilience. Because the only person you are destined to become is the person YOU DECIDE to be.”

The full ad:

The text:

“A WOMAN IS OFTEN MEASURED by the things she cannot control. She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve, by where she is flat or straight or round. She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers, by all the outside things that don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside. And so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control, by who she is and who she is trying to become. Beause every woman knows, measurement are only statistics. And STATISTICS LIE.”

The full ad:

The text:

“THIS IS A PICTURE OF A 40-YEAR OLD WOMAN, or perhaps just a picture of the way a 40-year old woman feels. She is a woman who does not feel her age, or think her age, or act however it is her age is suppose to act. If ages are to be believed, we grow old from the moment we are born. If ages are to be believed, we stop before experience teaches us to start. If you believe your age, you might not climb whatever hills you are supposedly over. If you believe 25 or 30 or 48 or 62, you might believe it is time to stop. when you are really JUST BEGINNING TO GO.”

These ads formed the basis of another Nike commercial, which features a number of girls speaking directly to the viewer about the advantages of taking part in sports:

“If you let me play,
If you let me play sports, I will like myself more.
I will have more self confidence.
If you let me play sports.
If you let me play,
If you let me play, I will be 60% less likely to get breast cancer.
I will suffer less depression.
If you let me plays sports, I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me.
If you let me play, I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to.
I will learn,
I will learn what it means to be strong.
If you let me play,
If you let me play sports.”

These advertisements and the powerful wording behind them have resonated with me ever since I first read the copy. It is a testament to the growth of the public mindset when this kind of messaging also resonates with the mainstream view. Powerful. Strong. Proud.