Nike’s “Equality”: How the Spread of Equality is Halted by the Delivery of Nike’s Message and Their Past Controversies

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Name: Zak Nowatzke
Major: Communication Studies
Minor: Psychology
Advisors: Joshua Smith; Denise Bostdorff (second reader), Michelle Johnson (academic advisor)

The purpose of my project was to analyze Nike’s commercial, “Equality” (2017), and focus on different aspects of the commercial that help promote equality despite their controversial past. To fulfill this task, I decided to implore the use of visual rhetoric to examine different elements of the commercial produced by Nike and Wieden+Kennedy. I specifically look at visual elements such as how much total screen-time each athlete receives, the role of the athlete within the commercial, and how Nike orchestrates their delivery of the message regarding equality. Additionally, this analysis looks to understand how groups such as Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ+ community are depicted through this advertisement. The results of this study establish how Nike perceives both Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ community within their commercial and highlights areas in where Nike failed to promote equality within their own commercial. What really inspired my project was the countless commercials that have been published over the years where companies have used events that have occurred to create a narrative to attempt and capitalize on these events to garner more overall customers. Furthermore, I was really inspired on trying to make an example of a large corporate company that has suffered from controversies in their past and exploring how they tried to right their wrongs through spreading a message regarding civil rights or equality.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

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