On the surface, Nike’s Equality campaign presents all the elements to successfully adhere to a social justice intervention. Its motto, activists and ambitions urge consumers to break the barrier and welcome equality of race, gender, religion, so on. Although, there has been speculation surrounding Nike’s choice of advertising and a question of what goes on behind the scenes at Headquarters. Through reflection and feedback received from peers, it has become evident that while Nike have created and advocated for change and equality, it seems that these motives have not always been successfully executed.
As previously stated, ‘Equality’ is an initiative that serves as an equal opportunity for all. Although, since the campaign has hit the headlines it seems that their actions are far from closing the barrier.
Firstly, an article written by OKTC journalist Clay Travis is quite striking, “Nike is for equality: unless you make it shoes”. Travis brings to light the imbalance between common society and LeBron James. For obvious reasons, LeBron is one of the world’s greatest athletes and a KOL for the campaign. LeBron is one of the leading activists for Equality, Nike utilises a renowned athlete as such to help circulate awareness and bring coverage to the intervention.
LeBron has evolved as not only an athlete but also as a brand. From apparel to shoes, Travis explains that while the collaboration between Equality Ambassador James and Nike there are ethical and contradictory issues.
The purpose of the campaign is expressing and providing the opportunity for equality; however, this is contradicted through production labour. Reports show for a pair of Air Jordan’s, Nike is set to pay a total of US $16.25 (roughly) – to break it down: $10.75 for materials, $2.43 for labour, overhead is $2.10 and the factory profit. In Australia, to purchase a pair of LeBron James shoes, you are estimated to spend $210+ on a pair alone. Comparing and contrasting the manufacturing costs to retail, it is evident there is a clear inequality here.
Through Nike’s Equality AD, taglines such as “opportunity should not discriminate” and “we can be equals everywhere” are repeated. The question stands, how is Nike able to continue advocating for Equality when the productions of their products are an example of inequality. It is interesting to reflect on Nike’s prior history; an issue they were previously entangled with was their ‘sweatshop’ image in the shoe industry.
In July of 2017, students and activists around the world came together to participate in a day of protest against Nike, organised by the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Allegations against Nike have begun to rise once again as claims have emerged that workers at the Nike contract Factory in Hansae and Vietnam have suffered wage theft and verbal abuse. This follows long laboured hours in temperatures that were estimated to be over the legal limit of 90 degrees. As a result of this, it is evident that many American Universities have cut ties with the company to push for equal opportunity and fairer working conditions.
Interestingly, it is evident that while a sporting conglomerate such as Nike push for equality throughout society, we can see that the initiative has not made a fair impression on the people. Nike must push to rectify these issues in order to create a neutral and clear view of its campaign and future objectives.
- Bain, M. (2018). Nike is facing a new wave of anti-sweatshop protests. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/1042298/nike-is-facing-a-new-wave-of-anti-sweatshop-protests/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
- Bilello, J. (2017). Joseph Bilello – Nike’s Pathetic “Equality” Campaign: There Is No Fake “Social Justice” In Sports!. [online] Townhall. Available at: https://townhall.com/columnists/josephbilello/2017/04/27/nikes-pathetic-equality-campaign-there-is-no-fake-social-justice-in-sports-n2319254 [Accessed 12 Sep. 2018].
- Clean Clothes Campaign. (2018). Adidas and Nike pay record-breaking amounts to footballers, but deny decent wages to women stitching their shirts. [online] Available at: https://cleanclothes.org/news/2018/06/11/adidas-and-nike-pay-record-breaking-amounts-to-footballers-but-deny-decent-wages-to-women-stitching-their-shirts [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
- Lutz, A. (2018). How Nike shed its sweatshop image to dominate the shoe industry. [online] Business Insider Australia. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-nike-fixed-its-sweatshop-image-2015-6?r=US&IR=T [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].