Updated: Mar 14, 2020
Perhaps Nike’s catchphrase “Just Do It” is the inspiration behind their workplace practices. Unfair, under-payed and unlivable? Oh well, Just Do It.
Article by: Hailey Hayes
While billion-dollar companies such as ‘Nike’ are quick to jump into the limelight and show their support during relevant social justice movements, they have the audacity to make these claims of solidarity while still having multiple allegations against them for enabling child labour and using sweatshops that employ hundreds of workers who are often working extended hours at a time for unlivable wages in dangerous conditions.
Nike choosing to ‘support’ Colin Kaepernick caused a big stir in the social media world. Kaepernick played on the San Francisco 49ers team in the National Football League (NFL) and took a stand against racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. The ‘Nike’ advertisement that caused such a stir features a picture of Kaepernick and the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Many NFL fans viewed Kaepernick’s kneeling during the anthem as disrespectful and chose to publicly show their disapproval for Nike’s new partnership by actively destroying their already purchased ‘Nike’ wear and posting the videos to social media. Many other football fans who were inspired by Kaepernick’s actions and the brand’s decision to support Kaepernick are said to have been going out of their way to purchase more ‘Nike’ merchandise to show their solidarity with Kaepernick.
Even more recently, Nike debuted their campaign that focuses on women athletes and the challenges they face in their fight for equal opportunity. While the Ad seems to shed a light on the challenges and criticisms women face in the sports industry, the underlying presence of a generated marketing scheme intended to expand their consumer market still shines through.
The question that comes to mind now is, how often do billion dollar industries and companies like ‘Nike’ profit off of the struggles of other people? Is this not just another form of exploitation? ‘Nike’s’ alignment with recent social justice issues is nothing more than a business move. By aligning themselves with current news-makers and big events, ‘Nike’ is able to continue to make their brand relevant. There are similar allegations against other big brand companies, such as ‘Victoria’s Secret’ and ‘Adidas’ that use sweatshops as a means of production but face little to no repercussions.
Are these conditions and situations a result of our extreme capitalism, where nothing is off limits if it means it will bring in profit? Or is it made possible by an increasingly unengaged and uninformed society that is driven by mass consumption and materialism? Has humanity simply become desensitized to the idea of child and sweatshop labour? Are we blissfully blind?
This new age of advertisements and social media influence provides an excellent opportunity for us as consumers to reflect on what we purchase and to consider the greater impacts beyond the initial transaction.