Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nike Advertisement

First, I would like to give everyone a brief summary of the advertisement. Although you can see it, I will give my perspective of it so everyone can see where I got the basis of my critique. To begin, I would like to say that this is a positive advertisement that comes from Nike. The ad showcases Maria Sharapova, who is the highest-paid female athlete in the world and is the second-ranked tennis player. The ad states, “Just a T-Shirt, the way Maria is just a tennis player.” This as is being sarcastic; of course the shirt is not just a regular shirt and of course Maria is not just your average tennis player because she is the second best in the world! Nike is stating that their product is brilliant, just like Maria Sharapova.

Maria Sharapova is depicted in this as in the same way that you might see her out on the tennis court. The hair by her forehead is sweaty and she is wearing little to no make-up. Her back is turned to the camera and her muscular arms are showing. She is wearing the T-shirt being advertised and her breasts are not showcased whatsoever. She has a fierce and determined look on her face. She is shown holding a ball, perhaps a soccer ball. Her female attributes, like her breasts are not being used to sell this product. She is not wearing excessive make-up either. Nike is not using her body to sell this T-shirt. They are using Maria obviously because she is a magnificent tennis player, not because of her looks. Nike is using Maria as their spokesperson because of her athletic ability and her well-known accomplishments as an athlete.

I do not believe that this ad is offensive to women whatsoever. This is meant to be an empowering ad for females. I think the ad is trying to say that as a female, you can be sweaty, muscular, and an athlete and still be beautiful and successful. It is saying this because Maria is muscular, she a well-accomplished athlete (even better than many male tennis players), and she is not afraid to get sweaty. This ad is telling the female population that we too can be sweaty like men and even be more successful than them if we stay determined. This ad breaks through the gender and sexuality boundaries that we normally see in advertisements featuring women. Maria is not showcased in tight clothes, her breasts are not exposed or even accentuated, and she is not wearing a ton of make-up trying to make her resemble a Barbie doll like we so commonly see in advertising.

The dividing line between what is “sexy” and what is “sexist” is in the eye of the beholder. Someone, whether male of female, may look at one advertisement and think it is “sexy”, but someone else may look at the ad and think it is too risqué and possibly “sexist”. I would have to say that this ad portrays Maria and all women that are athletes as sexy in a tasteful way. Maria looks great in no make-up and a loose T-shirt; she does not need to be all “dolled-up”. Other people may look at the ad say that it is “sexist” because she is shown with sweat on her forehead, which could allude to sex. I think that view is a little extreme because I think that this ad is clearly empowering for all females, especially female athletes. We do not need to wear make-up and tight clothes to be happy, successful, and beautiful.

I believe that this ad showcases feminism in all its glory. It is such an empowering ad. I love the tagline because it is glorifying the many accomplishments of a woman athlete. It says, “Just a T-shirt, the way Maria is just a tennis player.” Obviously, Nike is giving the utmost respect to Maria. She is not your average tennis player and certainly not your average girl. She has broken records and won many titles. She is not your average girl who will settle for being a housewife. She has her own dreams, goals, and ambitions, all of which she follows everyday. She does not care if she is sweaty, if her body has more muscle on it than a man, or if she has big breasts for a man to stare at. She is her own person and this ad is letting all females know that we can be whatever we want to be. We can even be athletes in a male-dominated area. Maria is shown holding a soccer ball. Usually men are showcased participating in sports and playing with balls, but not in this Nike ad. Nike is letting the world know that even women can play sports and be great at them.

Advertising has a huge effect on body images for girls and women. We come in contact with advertisements more times than I can count throughout a day, and if each ad is telling me as a woman that I need to be skinny and pin-thin then I start to believe it. Every clothing ad that I see features skinny girls and I don’t mean your average skinny. I mean stick-thin, with not an ounce of fat to be found. I see advertisement with thighs on girls that are about as wide as my arm and that’s not healthy. This makes girls think that in order to even be able to wear “cool” clothes they have to be super skinny. If more ads featured females of all sizes, especially more average-sized girls and full-figured females, then I believe that many girls would not be as self-conscious about their bodies. They would know that they are not alone in this size and shape and that there are clothes out there that can fit their body type. The advertising agencies and companies need to feature these diverse images of women. It is only fair that we stop neglecting the reality that we live in. The reality is that not very many females look as skinny as the models in ads, so why not have models that look like the average female? Maybe the company would even sell more of their product that way because the people viewing the ad would feel like the company respected their size and therefore the individual may be more apt to purchase the product. We cannot keep letting advertisements drive our females into bulimia and anorexia. Those are medical problems that could be fixed if advertisement would just showcase the image of the average body.

If people would like to see the negative advertisements towards women stop, then they need to boycott the products that feature this negative advertising. If people would stand up and say “NO!” to the companies that showcase women in sexual positions or with super-skinny frames, then maybe they would listen and make more realistic advertisements. I don’t just mean a couple little grassroots political movements either. Those groups are not going to get these companies to listen. All females and males need to join together and tell these companies, “ENOUGH!” If enough people write letters and boycott the companies, then they will listen and they will have to change their advertising techniques. Although we need to let the companies that have negative advertisements know that they are wrong, we also need to let the companies that are advertising correctly and positively towards women know that they are doing a great job, much like this Nike ad. Getting companies to change their ways will not be easy, but if we all put up a fight, there could be a change brewing.

By: Katie Hartigan

For more information on this advertising post, please check out these references:
1. "Glamour Magazine." (
2. "Maria Sharapova." Wikipedia. 21 July 2007 (
3. "Maria Sharapova Nike Commercial." Advertisement. 21 July 2007 (
4. "Maria Sharapova Official Site." (
5. "Nike." Advertisement. Glamour June 2007.
6. "Nike Women." Nike. (,nikewomen#l=nikestore,nikewomen).

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