Culture Jamming

Nike, so now what’s your excuse?  

This Nike advertisement is from 1986 which is important to note because of the changes in society since then about the appropriateness and what is acceptable in advertisements .and features two slightly different running shoes, one being smaller and with a differing colour scheme, and the slogan “So now what’s your excuse?” And underneath in a small font, it reads “the Windrunner for men and women”.  

I believe the intent of this advertisement was to make people aware of their response to costumers request to add a new line of the shoe into their collection and to push people to buy their shoes and to get out and use them. Albeit an aggressive way to motivate people, I can understand how they believed that tone would reach their specific audience. However, the small writing at the bottom subtly targets the female audience, by clarifying that men and women may now wear these shoes. This statement makes it seem as though they are calling women out for giving the company constructive feedback about not having the same options available to them as men. It also seems to play into the stereotype that that women, in general, are always complaining and make excuses not to be active. This aggressive style of advertising is a signature of the Nike brand and may appeal to some people who like this approach to motivation or who find it humorous, but it does feel very patronizing when the slogan is combined with the statement that it is for men and women.  

Note: I do acknowledge that there are other possible interpretations of this advertisement. However, this is how I perceived it at first. An advertisement is typically only supposed to be viewed for a short time so, people’s initial reactions are important. 

In my jamming of this Nike advertisement, I added some colour and I altered the slogan at the bottom to better reflect what the advertisers were really saying. I added the colours pink and blue to the shoes because those colours are, in our society, very gendered and would help emphasize that the shoes are for men and women now. In the original advertisement, the shoes without the colour look almost indistinguishable at first glance. I decided to change the small slogan at the bottom to something that would emphasize not only the condescending nature of the advertisement but also to highlight the slightly underhanded advertising tactics that are frequently utilized in our capitalist society. More specifically, the way that advertisers shame you and then tell you to fix your problem by buying their product. I think this advertisement is a perfect example of that. I tried to highlight this issue by using less subtle language like instead of using a word like “available” I used the word “buy” (my full revision was “Ladies, you can buy our shoes too”). We don’t often see words like “buy” in this context because it comes off as a little too controlling and on the nose. In order to make the interpretation of this advertisement glaringly obvious, I decided to make the subject clearer with the addition of “ladies” at the beginning. Thus, making it easier for women to understand that they too are now able to buy shoes and are out of excuses to not work out!