Nike Advertising: Changing The Way We Loko At Womens' Sports

1299 words - 5 pages

In recent years women's professional sports have become a major commodity and like all advertisers Nike took advantage of this growing powerful market. Nike began seizing control of the women's market before the WNBA and before the success of the women's 1996 Olympic gold medaling soccer team. They began investing more money into the women's market in 1987 when they featured Stacy Allison; the first woman to climb Mt. Everest (Nike 119). The push for female consumers was started when sales in men's sports apparel dropped heavily in the early 1990's and women's sport apparel rose. In 1994 the women's sport shoe market increased 45%, and Nike's women's fitness line grew 26% and an additional 51% in 1995 (Nike 118). The increase in female sport shoes was not the only sign of the growing dominates women were having in sports apparel. "According to 1994 sales figures from the National Sporting Goods Association, women consumed nearly 80% of all workout gear sold in the United States (Nike 118)." From almost the beginning Nike took a completely different approach to reach the health conscious female consumer. Instead of relying on images that would tell women to get in shape so they could look more attractive to men, Nike relied on emotional and inspirational advertising pieces. Nike would show women running or working out alone while inspirational monologues told of determination and forging through all the times women are told they can't do something and they say they will anyway. Competitors launched similar campaigns like Reebok's "I believe" campaign, but all of Nike's competitors only "offered women a suspect freedom to engage in "˜the disciple of perfecting the body as an object (Nike 125)." While Nike's main goal was profit they also realized they had a great opportunity to change people's opinions on women's sports through their advertisements. Nike's competitors acted more as agents of control by reinforcing the idea that the sole reason for women to work out is to look more attractive to men. Nike decided to act like an agent of change by first promoting the betterment of your self for your self then moved quickly into promoting women's sports at all levels and portraying images that showed women were as intense on the field as men. Nike's first major female campaign was called "Empathy." This campaign "spoke to the process of developing a self over the course of a lifetime "“ a self that corresponded neither to the fixed ideal defined by the male gaze nor to the female plasticity that accommodates to other people's vision of you, and your life (Nike 127)." These ads formed the foundation that Nike needed in order to start a more aggressive campaign such as the one it used for the U.S women's volleyball team called, "Pack of Wolves." In Nike's commercial for the women's' volleyball team a voiceover said, "[They are] not SISTERS, [They are] not CLASSMATES, [They are]...

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