Nike’s controversial ads

  • 1996

    SYNOPSIS: Eric Cantona appears in a Nike ad alongside other superstar footballers pitted in a gladiatorial combat with the devil.CONTROVERSY: The ads were considered violent and too frightening for young children. They were restricted in some countries.

  • 2010

    SYNOPSIS: Online ad showing a picture of Tiger Woods overlaid with a quote from him, “Winning takes care of everything.”CONTROVERSY: Commentators on social media felt the ad sent the wrong message in light of accusations, then circulating, that Woods had multiple extra-marital affairs. Nike did not cut ties with Woods when the scandal broke and even tried to help resuscitate his image with an ad four months later featuring a voice-over by his late father.

  • 2012

    SYNOPSIS: TV ad shows a heavyset boy, the 12-year-old Nathan Sorrell, jogging infront of the camera. CONTROVERSY:Many viewers thought the ad degrading. One commentator writes “Yes, we get it Nike, fat people aren’t great but apparently can be if they work out and get skinny like you want them to.”

  • 2017

    SYNOPSIS: A woman running through the streets in a hijab. CONTROVERSY: Muslim women have participated in recent Olympics, Nevertheless, gender roles prevalent in many Muslim communities limit women’s role in sports. Last summer, for the first time, Saudi Arabia announced it would introduce physical education for school girls.

  • 2017

    SYNOPSIS: A gif of the Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios with his head surrounded by animated clouds and lightning bolts. The line reads ‘Dark clouds never got in the way of talent.’ CONTROVERSY:The online gif elicited an array of criticism including the concern that the ad promulgates the idea that mental illness can be overcome by grit.

  • 2018

    SYNOPSIS: Nike selects the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the new face for the athletic wear company’s 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.CONTROVERSY: Kaepernick started an NFL players protest by kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.


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