Nike’s Girl Power is Weak

NEW YORK I am woman and hear me roar. Nike’s new commercial for, “Continuing the Conversation,” may not actually use those words, but it might as well. The sentiment of this spot—female athlete after female athlete approaching a giant megaphone and reiterating their athletic strengths—is admirable and still needed considering the flippant, derogatory comments of shock jock Don Imus, but this overwrought execution fails to generate the rallying cry it seeks. Athletes including the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings, former soccer player Mia Hamm, ex-skier Picabo Street and former pro beach volleyball star Gabrielle Reece each identify themselves by their name and sport. High school basketball coach Bill Resler explains, “Female athletes have to overcome the bias that their game isn’t as good as the men’s game.” Reece acknowledges the differences in the sexes, asking, “Are boys bigger, stronger, faster?” Yes, she admits, but “is that all that has to do with being an athlete? No.” The bottom line: Sex should be taken out of the equation. “It’s not a girl thing, it’s not a boy thing. It’s a skills thing,” she says. The spot ends with one word, “Athlete,” and the Nike swoosh. The out-of-home keeps the conversation simpler and takes a stronger direct hit, picturing Serena Williams wearing a T-shirt with “Athlete” across her chest and the question, “Are you looking at my titles?”