In this modern world, it is undeniable that there have been a lot of brands competing with each other to get much more consumers. One of the top brands in the world is Nike. This kind of brand is so popular and familiar amongst people, especially because of the sportspeople who endorse the brand. Nike with its popularity utilises many different kind of marketing strategies, including using famous sportspersons as tools to advertise their goods and services. However, it is arguable that the existence of Nike as one of the top branded items in the world seems to create a kind of social stratification where people are thought to be different from each other when they wear the Nike products. Certain people may consider themselves as better than others simply because they have some particular Nike items that are considered to be expensive and prestigious or they feel that the Nike brand will give them a performance edge.
This essay will discuss the Nike logo with one of the most famous and expensive football player, Christiano Ronaldo. I will be looking at how the Nike’s company advertises their product by utilising famous sportspeople such as Ronaldo, as Nike also is the main sponsor for Portugal football team in every football event. The media studies theory that I am using in this essay is basically of textual analysis and advertisements. Firstly, I am going to give a brief explanation of the Nike’s history. Secondly I will focus on NIKE advertisements from the perspective of advertising theory as well as the discussion of the images chosen.
To start with, the logo Nike was found in America in January 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by William J. Bill and Philp H. Knight. It officially became Nike, Inc. in 1978. Nowadays, Nike is said to be the most leading and major sport equipment supplier and publicly traded sportswear in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.)
As it is evident, sports and the media have a very strong symbiotic relationship which is considered to benefit each other. However, The Nike Company strongly utilities the media to advertise their products while the media ownerships take this advantage as a great opportunity to enhance their influences and authority over the public. By continuously advertising the Nike products, media ownerships and those who are the ruling elite will significantly exert more and more influences over the audience. This also leads to what is called ‘hegemony’. Watson (2008, p. 22) argue that media are the most powerful instruments of ‘hegemonic’ culture where the ruling classes put more pressures and persuasions to control the media. In other words, Nike will surely cooperate or even control the media to propagandise the consumer behaviour towards their products.
Using famous sportspersons to advertise their products will give a huge advantage for the Nike Company, as there will be more consumers who end up buying their products due to the reason that the sportspeople chosen are usually high profile and admired by the sporting public. The logo ‘just do it’ serves a very important meaning and teaches a particular ideology that whatever people want to do, they can just do that without having to consider the effects on others, whether it is good or bad. Some authors have proposed that brands serve some particular advantages to the consumers ‘in terms of product quality’. Buyers may end up believing that advertised brands have better quality than brands that do not get advertised (Mehta, 2000, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23). Furthermore, Shavitt and Lowrey (1998, cited in Sheehan, 2005 p. 23) argue that branded goods are much more valuable that items that are not, because certain people, when buying, need to consider the value, quality, and ‘long time customer service’, which leads to the process of ‘decision making’. Nike itself, which is also known for its quality, is seen to have the capabilities to fulfil the customers demand and meet the consumers’ satisfaction and expectation.
Christiano Ronaldo, as it is seen from the image, running and dribbling the ball while the other players are left far behind him and look unlikely to get the ball from him. Different people may have different attitudes and offer different perspective towards this image. However, this will promote the idea that when people buy the right foot wear and clothing which are similar to what Ronaldo does, they will automatically become more confident and will definitely exceed in everything that they do. They will also think that they are better than other people when they use the Nike products as a result of the idea of superior social status. The colour of the shoes which are green, serves a particular meaning that when people consume the Nike products, coolness and confidence will always be part of their lives. The background of the image also has a very important role in strengthening the meaning that the image has to offer. The colour black with a thunder storm and rain show that stronger mind and more self confidence are achievable.
In most of its advertisements with Christiano Ronaldo, Nike always emphasises on the term ‘only for the fastest’. This is a clear example of how Nike utilises this term as a tool of propaganda to encourage people to consume more of their products, so that they can potentially become as fast as Ronaldo. This is a very attractive idea for young people who love sport, particularly football because public figure such as Ronaldo is very familiar to them. At the same time, people are caught up in consumerism, as when ‘advertising affects the prices of goods and services’, consumers will then have ‘to pay higher prices’ for ‘the value that brands provide’ (Sheehan, 2005, p. 17). This happens to Nike where the majority of its products are considered to be higher in prices, so that the consumers are forced to pay higher prices and do so willingly if they want to have particular products that Nike has to offer.
However, there is a situation where reputation seems to appear as the main priority. Political consumerist activists are concerned about what Nike has been doing in The Third World countries where they treat their workers with a very low wages (Peretti, 2004, p.127). The author believes that Nike tends to focus more on their “brand image’ and their best interests rather than the rights of its workers in the Third World. From that sense, Nike uses the internet media to make it easier for its consumers to buy their products online to give them the ‘freedom of choice and freedom to express one’s own lifestyle identity’. However, Peretti in his email to the ‘NIKE iD’ raises the concerns about what he called ‘sweatshop’ (p. 128). This changes everything as his email manage to reach such a broad audience informing on how the Nike Company treated their workers.
In addition to this, females in Nike advertisements are rarely seen. It is probably due to the reason that female experience in sport is restricted and they do not have as significant role play as male in sport, even though there have been major changes towards woman’s role in sports in recent times. The methodology that Nike uses to advertise their products and service seems to show that there is a gender biased and inequality. It can be said that in most of its advertisements, females are rarely seen promoting Nike products.
In conclusion, Nike with its great reputation in the market can potentially influence the consumer by promoting attractive lifestyle and sporting images. Likewise, media cooperation are also able to expand their influence over the audience by cleaver advertising and marketing strategies. Christiano Ronaldo with his popularity can be a very significant asset and weapon for Nike to persuade their consumers to consume more of their products, even though the huge fees paid to these people raises the price of a Nike product. However, there will always be a significant section of the community who will not support a company which does not treat its workers ethically. This consumers will look for an alternative sports brand which may not be as well know as Nike but treats its workers especially those in poorer countries in a much more ethical manner in relation to wages and working condition. Therefore, it may not be just a question of advertising using well known sportspeople or the notion of a superior product or brand that will influence people in their final decision to purchase one brand over another. The idea of ‘social stratification’ and different group will always be there as a result of the notion.
http://media.photobucket.com/image/nike+with+ronaldo+/mkkamaru/nikefootball/WP_mercurial_1024x768.jpg (accessed 9 December 2010, 3:45 AEDST).
Peretti, Jonah, (2004) ‘The Nike Sweatshop Email: Political consumerism, Internet, and Culture Jamming, in Michele Micheletti, Andreas Follesdal, and Dietlind Stolle (eds), Politics, Products, and Markets: Exploring Political Consumerism Past and Present, pp. 127-142, London: Transaction Publishers.
Sheehan, Kim, (2005) ‘Are Goods Bad? Living in Consumer culture’, in Controversies in Contemporary Culture, Thousand Oaks London, New Delhi: Sage, pp.17-33
Watson, James, (2008) ‘Hegemony an Overview’ and ‘Signs, Codes, Texts’ in Media Communications: An Introduction to Theory and Process, New York: Palgrave, pp.22-28.