11. Nike’s Quick Thinking

Here’s an ad that arose from the ashes of a shocking situation—a throwback now that we’ve hit 2013. Six years ago, Don Imus, a comedic radio host, called the Rutgers Women’s basketball team “rough girls” during a discussion regarding the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. He then went on to call them “nappy-headed hoes.” Woah. Not allowed, dude.

Here’s where it gets cool. The very next day, Nike quietly released this ad:


Wieden+Kennedy’s beautifully simplistic ad speaks for itself. The swoosh is tiny, but it’s there, showing its support of women’s sports and female athletes. It refuses to back down from controversy, instead taking it head-on and making a statement calling for change and attention. The design is practically a word document, and yet it makes a powerful, powerful statement. Playing the bigger person, it only insinuates “Hey, fuck you Don Imus.”

This ad, along with the “my butt is big” women’s ads for Nike, inspire me both as a female athlete and as an advertising student. This crossroad of two worlds is my identity, and I adore the way Nike represents it. At first, Nike struggled trying to tap into the female athlete market, but they’ve found their niche. It’s that perfect tone of pride, recognizing that we are women who happen to push ourselves to the limits. My daily life consists of sweating through swoosh-encrusted sports bras, and it makes me happy to know that Nike respects me as much as I respect Nike.

Let’s get back to the Rutgers ad, though. While we were discussing it in class, someone asked if Adidas would have done this. As far as I can tell, no, it wouldn’t have—it’s not in Adidas’ brand DNA to jump into controversy like this. Adidas is the cool, hip-hop type of sporty. While I respect Adidas as a brand, it simply doesn’t have the balls to start cultural discussion like Nike does.


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