Title – Shock Treatment
Every company that has a product to sell wants to have their advertisements grab the attention of the potential buyer. Companies today are competing at high levels to come up with the advertisements that will be flashy and aggressive so consumers will become interested in their product. However, a commercial or an ad might not get the initial point across or cause many viewers to be confused when they see them. Sometimes, what the company is trying to do might offend people. Ethical lines may be walked upon so that the strong points can be presented to the consumer.
For example, Nike has introduced a new commercial that has caused quite a stir among critics. The title of this commercial is ‘Beautiful’;. The thirty second spot, created by longtime ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, debut nationally on October 12 during the National League Championship Series and will air into November. What this ad focuses on is a handful of athletes who have each suffered serious scarring or physical trauma while participating in their sport of choice. The spot is filmed in black-and-white, accented by a haunting rendition of the song ‘You Are So Beautiful To Me,’; and featuring close-ups of injuries suffered by both elite and so-called ‘everyday’; athletes. It closes with the ‘Just Do It’; message followed by the Nike Swoosh.
Nike’s point of the commercial is that athletes at all levels of competition at one time or another feel the pain of injury. For some, damage can be severe to the point of disfigurement. Many give up the game they love for safer persist. Others overcome seemingly insurmountable injuries to compete again, proudly bearing the surgical scars that urge them onward. What this commercial shows are somewhat disturbing shots of a shark bite, a missing fingertip, missing teeth, scars from a surgically repaired knee and a shattered eye socket. The main question is what does this have to do with Nike products and services.
Nike’s ads, like many other businesses, require interpretation. Some of their commercials go on at the conscious level, some unconsciously. I have a constructive point of view in that I view meaning as interplay between text and the reader. Texts are full of indeterminacy, which require the reader’s active interpretation. Thus, readers of advertisements bring with them a surface knowledge of the language as well as a set of preconceived ideas about how to relate the ads to themselves.
Ads work on a variety of different levels including, but not limited to, sign typology, psychological appeals, emotion, roles, value/beliefs and knowledge. Again, the impact of an ad comes from the interplay between these various aspects of make up and the reader’s own notions about him/herself and the world. Nike appeals to the buying public that treats fitness as a worthy individual goal that simultaneously conveys social identification. This specific commercial though pushes the ethical boundaries of what the consumer wants to see and understand. As stated in the article from David A. Aaker, a marketing professor at UC, Berkeley, ‘the ad risked associating Nike’s name with the squeamishness many people feel when they see severe injuries. There are no Nike products in the ad to divert attention from the injuries.’; ‘Nike is all about emotion, and these are the wrong emotions.’;
I have seen this specific commercial and I do agree that emotionally this ad does show that you can go on after a serious injury. I was a college athlete and I do know that all of the time and work effort, both mentally and physically, that is put into a sport you love is worth it. Moreover, coming back from a serious injury to play again is a great feeling of personal victory. Again from the article, Nike and W;K figured that anybody who has ever injured themselves playing sports could relate to the notion of badges of honor. But I also think that people get offended by seeing these scars and do not want to be forced see these disfigurements on a commercial that they are watching during their program. As stated earlier, Nike has always had commercials that made people feel some type of emotion. They drive their business by showing the humor, elation and agony of athleticism and competition. I feel that this specific commercial could have been portrayed in a different manner to get their point across. It might have even turned some kids away from a certain sport if they see that can happen to them. Overall, much attention has been given to this ad and that is exactly what Nike wanted.