Update: I’m really impressed — as of late yesterday, Nike has issued an apology and is attempting to dispose of all of the flyers.
Okay, I don’t normally think of myself as anti-commercial, but this is just a little too fucking raw for my taste.
Not content with naming their east coast skateboarding tour the “Major Threat” tour, Nike has appropriated imagery from the band Minor Threat to promote that tour. Compare and contrast:
|Minor Threat’s Album Cover
||Nike’s Tour Poster
According to Pitchfork Media, Nike never mentioned this lookalike ad campaign to Dischord (the label that released the 1984 album):
“No, they stole it and we’re not happy about it. Nike is a giant corporation which is attempting to manipulate the alternative skate culture to create an even wider demand for their already ubiquitous brand. Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike’s mission. It’s disgusting.”
It’s actually hard to pick what’s most disgusting about this. Is it Nike’s curious about face regarding appropriation of imagery? Maybe — the company did, after all, sue Sega back in 2002, when Sega started running a commercial that copied the “look and feel” of a successful 1996 Nike tv ad.
Is it the ongoing appropriation of consciously anti-commercial imagery for commercial purposes? That’s a good possibility, too. Perhaps the feeling that I have right now is what others felt when they heard Janis Joplin singing over a Mercedes ad. Incredibly, the most appropriate word I can come up with for this is disrespectful, though in straight edge terms that’s a pretty powerful condemnation, so I guess it fits.
Did Nike not realize that people who wrote the lyrics…
When we have nothing left to give
There will be no reason for us to live
But when we have nothing left to lose
You’ll have nothing left to use
We owe you nothing so
You have no control
Merchandise keeps us in line
Common sense says it’s by design
What could the business men ever want more
Than to have us sucking in their stores?
We owe you nothing
You have no control
You are not what you own
…might not want their history stripmined in an effort to build an edgy brand image and thereby sell more sneakers? And yes, I know that’s Fugazi rather than Minor Threat. It was also Fugazi that wrote “Song Number One” (which was not a fuck you song). I’m not a big fan of after-the-fact band reunions, but right now I’d totally support a Fugazi reunion that lasted long enough to write Song Number Two, which should absolutely be a big old fuck you song.
As Dischord notes, anyone who is so inclined can email Nike here. And just a side note: if I can keep myself from using the word “fuckers” in my email to Nike, then so can you.