Thursday, September 15, 2005

New Nike Ad Campaign

So my friend J. showed me some of the new Nike ads aimed at women which are now appearing in magazines including Jane. In my somewhat hybridized academic speak I said "Holy, problematic!" J. nodded in agreement.
Here is link where you can see three of the ads of the 6-ad print campaign which the Nike peeps are calling a continuation of the "If you let me play campaign" from the late 90s. (Also a problematic campaign. If you let me play. Please, sir, please let me play sport. I promise if I do I won't get pregnant or do drugs and become a burden to your welfare state.) The problem with this campaign, as with some of the other Nike campaigns, is that we want to like them. And I always get so close to just giving in and saying "sure, these are great. Go women's sports!" This time was no exception.
I like the copy for the most part. I can relate to loving my knees with scars and my broader then my hips shoulders (though the shoulder ad has the women building her upper body through swimming and yoga--neither a sport that really threatens the gender order); and kudos to Nike for showing women of color. Oh but wait--we don't really see women--we see body parts. This is a typical move in advertising. A woman's body becomes compartmentalized. We don't see faces--just knees, and shoulders, and a butt (in separate ads). It's the old concept of highlighting problem areas (from dry skin to flabby abs) except in this ad they aren't telling you to fight against the pieces-of-my-body-on-display tactics (though they want you to think that)--they are just telling you to screw the world and embrace your problem areas.
Some have compared the campaign to Dove's real women ads. No way! You actually see women with their whole bodies living and working and playing there. Here you see parts. And I would argue that they are highly sexualized--perhaps even fetishized--parts. Nike says they realized in their "If you let me play" campaign that they hadn't really talked about women's bodies. I say they haven't done it here either.

No comments: