Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nike: Sport doesn't recognize gender

In my INBOX this morning was an email from Nike, NikeWomen specifically. (I keep telling myself to unsubscribe, but then I hesitate when I get bloggable moments like these.)
Here's what I read first (It's all in caps but I won't do that to you. Also note the punctuation is the way it appears int he original.):
Sport is universal. It appeals to our sense of adventure. Provides a platform for accomplishment. And an opportunity to forge bonds with like-minded competitors. As female athletes, sports defines who we are. Because, collectively, we are redefining sport. Gender doesn't define a great athlete. Great does.
This is part of their ongoing ATHLETE campaign. If you scroll down the email you find a link to the ATHLETE t-shirts ready for you to purchase and the ads that have been running as part of the campaign.
But directly underneath the above "gender doesn't matter in sport" message is this:
Nike helps you put it all together with Shop by Outfit. Because you shouldn't have to "break a sweat to assemble the right training gear."
So apparently sport is not gendered, but shopping is. Because I could not find any Shop by Outfit option when looking at the men's apparel at Nike.com. This is very interesting because, of course, shopping is gendered (as is sport--I don't think Nike's campaign is fooling anyone). But stereotypically it's women who have no trouble picking out an outfit. Men, on the other hand, are generally considered shopping illiterate. Yet Nike is targeting women with this marketing strategy.
Why? Likely because sporting apparel and its meaning is also gendered. Send an email to men saying let us help you pick out that perfect outfit for working out, weekly tennis, weekend flag football and men would laugh because, the feeling is, they don't care what they throw on when they go to work out. (Which is not exactly true. Take a look around the gym. Men may not be wearing an "outfit" but some have clearly made conscious decisions about how they are presenting themselves and the clothes are part of that.) Still a marketing strategy like that would be futile and Nike knows it.
So again we have: gender does not matter; but wait--gender does matter.

No comments: