Nike Culture Jam Ad


This advertisement represents Nike and the product Nike is advertising is a pair of sneakers. The advertisement states “The sneaker makes the man” and underneath is a shot of the sneaker. In the background of the advertisement, there is a figure that has light coming from its eyes and the centre of its body. The background figure can be seen as a method to illuminate the sneaker that is being displayed, especially since the background of the ad is completely black. Additionally, the figure can resemble the inner identity of man to reiterate their statement that “The sneaker makes the man” as it showcases the idea of man being behind the sneaker. In this claim, Nike attempts to display the powerful presence a sneaker provides to one’s character. Nike hopes to provoke individuals to purchase the sneaker by alluding to the idea that these sneakers make up the basis of one’s personality. The advertising technique Nike uses is association whereby they associate a pair of shoes as being part of one’s character to promote their perception that the sneaker will allow a person to achieve a desirable state of being. This desirable state of being includes feelings of confidence and being in style. Nike reinforces the consumerist mindset where materialistic items are seen as a necessity and a part of one’s being. Thus, the problem that I will be addressing with my jamming is the uncovered truth that goes on behind the scenes of Nike’s operations and how Nike finds success in the capitalist system.


In my jammed version of the ad, I crossed out the words “sneaker” and “man” and switched the words around to alter the original phrase in order to give a whole new meaning to the poster. The new phrase reads “the man makes the sneaker.” In a simple swap, there is a complete role reversal of power. To further explain, the context of the phrase now evokes that the power is in the hands of the man, rather than the sneaker. At the same time, unlike the original poster which refers to consumers as the “man,” my jammed version of the ad uses the word “man” to refer to all sweatshop workers. Ironically, although my jammed version of the ad draws out the idea of man having the power as they are the ones making the sneaker, the reality is that sweatshop workers lack power. Instead, sweatshop workers are taken advantage of by the dynamics of our consumerist society. They are required to work long hours in poor and unsafe working conditions as a means to survive. This alteration of Nike’s original ad reveals the harsh reality of Nike’s operations, but it also generalizes and acknowledges the entire capitalist system that causes it. The image at the bottom that covers up the sneaker is an image of a sweatshop. I placed this image in front of the shoe to showcase what is being covered, or what is hidden behind the sneaker. In addition, it elicits the fact that without these workers, the product would be unavailable to consumers. I kept the background image of the figure to symbolize the idea of bringing into light the process that occurs behind the scenes.