Reports: Black Nike Employees Angry Over The Brand’s Latest “Masterpiece”

Reports: Black Nike Employees Angry Over The Brand’s Latest “Masterpiece”

Last week, Nike revealed its latest campaign “You can’t stop us” which many people were calling a “masterpiece” and some of the sports giant’s best creative work ever. Check out B&T’s initial reporting here.

The ad, narrated by US soccer star Megan Rapinoe, featured a slew of racially diverse professional and amateur athletes including Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams and LeBron James.

Since it launched, the ad has been viewed over 42 million times on YouTube and 40 million times on Twitter, and is drew rave reviews for its mesmerising editing.

And it appears the only criticism to the ad has come from Nike employees themselves.

According to a report on the Financial Times, a group of black employees “voiced repeated objections” to the ad while it was in development and asked senior management “to publicly acknowledge the company’s own internal shortcomings on equality before promoting the ideal to consumers”.

Nike – despite all its social stances – is regularly called out for its lack of black representation in senior management roles.

According to the article, the dissenting group were members of a task force commissioned by Nike’s CMO  DJ van Hameren to “find solutions to Nike’s internal issues with diversity”.

While the ad was in development, the task force reportedly suggested to management “in emails and at least two video meetings” that Nike publicly acknowledge what was going on internally before capitalising on the current climate and Black Lives Matters movement.

Bosses apparently responded to the suggestion by saying that it should not wait to “be part of the broader social justice conversations” while it addressed internal dynamics.

In a statement to the Financial Times, a Nike spokesperson said: “Our brand has celebrated incredible black athletes and inspired millions of people all over the world by amplifying their excellence.

“Internally, we have made progress across our [diversity and inclusion] efforts, and we recognise that we have a lot more work to do.”

The company added that it is “aiming to increase representation of black, Latinx and female employees across all levels”.

In June, Nike CEO John Donahoe wrote in a letter to staff stating he understood that “many have felt a disconnect between our external brand and your internal experience. You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognised and celebrated our own black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change”.

It’s been a tough six months for the world’s biggest sportswear brand. COVID has seen stores close, sales have reportedly plummeted by as much as 38 per cent and the company has announced plans to lay off as many as 500 staff from his headquarters in Oregon.

In better news, last week Nike was announced as the world’s leading fashion brand by the influentual Lyst Index.

It was the first time in Lyst’s history that aupmarket fashion brand had not won the title.

To compile its results, Lyst analyses the online shopping behaviour of more than nine million shoppers a month who are searching, browsing and buying garments across 12,000 designers and stores online.

The formula behind The Lyst Index takes into account global Lyst and Google search data, conversion rates and sales, as well as brand and product social media mentions and engagement statistics worldwide over a three month period.

According to Lyst, 2020’s lockdown has proven a boon for Nike as people sort out casual comfort over high-end luxury.

Lyst noted that part of Nike’s success is owed to its investments in building its digital business and having the right product for a consumer base stuck at home.

Nike also earned high marks for a video with the anti-racism message ‘Don’t Do It’ – that garnered five million Instragam likes –  and for pledging $US40 million to organisations that supported the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice.






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