Friday, November 30, 2007

Nike "Mask"

Well, this ad is unlike almost all of the other Nike ads I've seen before.

It doesn't show grueling athleticism, it doesn't have sweat, blood, tears, or thrilling victory. Nor does it celebrate the underdog in a typical, glorifying, against-all-odds fashion. Yet, it does features an underdog of sorts, but only after a healthy load of sarcasm and one big depressing reveal.

This seems to be a pretty big change in tone for Nike. It's still celebrating the women's soccer team, but also seems to be shaming the viewer for their lack of knowledge or interest. I agree that no talented sports team should worry more about marketing than their sport, as the ad suggests, but is this sort of advertising more effective than what's been used in the past? And who is the ad appealing to, if the typical apparel consumer doesn't have intimate knowledge of the US Women's Soccer Team? My guess is that we're supposed to care and feel chided since everything else Nike touches has an amount of esteem and importance. They're cashing in on their brand.

Does it work? It caught my eye, for sure. It stands out more in my mind than other recent commercials from Nike or Adidas. Whether it will influence me to buy more, I don't know, but I don't think that's the point. It helps further establish Nike as a leading brand that takes all athletes seriously regardless of their fame or current spotlight. Sure, there's the Nike that has a new NBA shoe out for whatever athlete of the week we're currently worshiping, but this Nike, this semi-jaded and incredulous Nike, is beyond that. It's about pure athleticism.

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