Nike, the worldwide manufacturer of sport shoes and apparel, is engaging in virtue signalling with a video that will air during the Grammy Awards on February 12. It features basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, tennis champion Serena Williams, and other black athletes. According to Nike, the ad campaign seeks to encourage “people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field.” Besides airing the ads, Nike will also donate $5 million to organizations that it says promote equality.
A white athlete, Megan Rapinoe, also makes an appearance in the video. An advocate of LGBTQ causes, Rapinoe represented the US on the women's soccer team at the recent Olympics in Brazil
“Is this the land history promised?” the narrator in the video asks. “Here,” as images of the white lines of fields and courts are shown being painted over streets, buildings, and cars, “you’re defined by your actions, not your looks or beliefs. Equality should have no boundaries.” The black-and-white video segues through urban scenes, where young people play basketball in the street or tennis on urban concrete courts. In one instance, two children are seen playing hoops in the street outside a church when a police car ominously pulls up.
The messages from the narrator continue as the faces change while Alicia Keys sings Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” Directed by Melina Matsoukas, the ad says: “Opportunity should not discriminate.” “The ball should bounce the same for everyone.”
The camera pans over a young woman wearing a Muslim-style scarf while the narrator says, “Opportunity should be indiscriminate.”
The video was accompanied by a four-page spread in the New York Times that offered images of LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Kevin Durant, following by Nike’s message on the fourth page.
“Is this the land history promised? This field of play. Where the dream of fairness and mutual respect lives on. Where you are defined by actions, not your looks and beliefs. For too long these ideals have taken refuge inside these lines. Equality should have no boundaries. The bond between players should exist between people. Opportunity should be indiscriminate. Worth should outshine color. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. If we can be equals here, we can be equals everywhere.”
Nike is taking its message to the NBA All-Star Game festivities in New Orleans on February 18-19, where a sign at the Benson Tower will dominate the skyline.
In a related arena, Nike and Adidas have joined a coalition of retailers and manufacturers such as Target and Walmart to oppose President Trump's proposal for taxing imports.