Breaking Stereotypes Through Sports Media
TIFFANY ALEMAN STAFF WRITER
The world of sports media is a way for companies to depict their values while marketing their products to the consumers. It is important for national brands to inform the public on real life struggles because it should be everyone’s goal to ensure equality regardless of an individual’s culture. Powerful advertising companies such as Nike can help to influence the public’s views on global issues and send out positive messages, to help promote equality for all. Recently, Nike released a video advertisement that expressed the strength of arabian women in sports and the ordeals that they must go through to be accepted into society. The video depicted Arabian women participating in a variety of athletic activities. The purpose of the advertisement was to break stereotypes placed upon Arabian women in society. Even with such an influential message, Nike faced backlash from Islamic Phobic individuals as well as Muslim women. Women of the Middle East felt misrepresented and that their culture was used as propaganda for Nike to make a quick profit. Islamic Phobic individuals were also angered at the brand for positively encouraging Middle Eastern women into media. Regardless of how people viewed the advertisement, it demonstrated the importance of breaking stereotypes surrounding Middle Eastern individuals, in the media, to ensure equality for all.
“This is not the true representation of Arab [Middle Eastern], [or] Muslim women,” advocate Nada Sahimi said, “ We do not [all] wear a hijab and go running in the streets, shame on Nike.”
Nike attempted to shed light upon on the important idea of breaking stereotypes among women in the Middle East. It was not meant to be viewed as cultural appropriation. With the constant negativity in our modern society, there will always be someone angry at a simple piece of advertisement. The company could have easily made a generic advertisement to endorse their brand-new line of products, but instead, they created a video to celebrate the strength of different cultures in society. The advertisement was titled “What Will They Say About You?” and was marketed to represent how the opinion of others should not matter. Although this was a great topic to shed light upon, the disapproval this company is facing demonstrates how a simple advertisement can stir up debate and help others to realize the impact of stereotypes. Companies are very hesitant to get involved in mentioning global struggles that different ethnic cultures endure because of the fear that it will affect their sales but Nike is proof that money should not determine your value to respect others.
“If you have a body-you are an athlete and with this film we hope to inspire you, the women, and the girls of the region, to pursue that passion for a sport or try it for the first time.” The speaker in the Nike advertisement said.
This was a benefiting technique to inform Nike’s consumers on how the negative media toward people of the Middle East should not be affected by stereotyping. Setting aside religion, Nike hoped to be a positive advocate for people of the Middle East and to help conquer negative stereotypes. Ultimately Nike was doing the right thing by creating this campaign to take a step forward to stop stereotyping women of other ethnic cultures. Hopefully other global brands will follow their example to help people see that one person’s mistakes should not be reflected on a whole culture.