Nothing Beats A Londoner: Nike and Diversity in Advertising

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The possibilities for diversity in advertising are endless. We are no longer living in a society where we expect to see the traditional nuclear family on a television advert. Nor are we surprised to see the pioneering image of a brand campaign, targeted towards a Western audience, being advertised by someone other than a white Caucasian male. Times are changing, the cultural makeup of the UK is evolving, perceptions and ideologies of consumers are updating – brands need to keep up, yet tread cautiously, if they wish to maintain a positive reputational identity and keep themselves in the PR good books.

Nike have undoubtedly hit the golden bell of diversity-in-advertising glory this past month. Their knockout campaign, ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ pays strong homage to 200 million of London’s youth and features notable faces from sport and music. It has been widely praised for its portrayal of a truthful, young London in all its diverse glory, and for acknowledging that London has more to offer than just the elite forces of British Government. Firing off the back of this campaign glory, Nike will be launching a February half-term project, where Nike-sponsored athletes meet London’s young and ambitious faces. ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ firmly states that Nike is an unbeatable brand, and most significantly, an inclusive brand for all. This is modern day communication, done right.

However, with the desire to include such diversity, comes the wider risk of ruffling a few feathers. A desire to include everyone – meaning, every cultural background and every walk of life – naturally means, of course, that we can’t include and represent everyone. It’s impossible. For we are now a society so diverse and inclusive, that the categories of a particular type of person, a place, an identity are endless. Nonetheless, Nike still failed to pay homage to London’s large Asian population – hardly a niche, newly-established category that could easily go unnoticed. From the 2011 census, nearly 7% of the British population are Asian. For an advert and brand that is all about including many corners of the British identity, why have such a large percentage of the population not been represented in Nike’s advert?

Nike’s campaign has largely hit the spot. But for one thing, they have proven that the modern day brand must be careful about the ways in which they choose to navigate the diversity of their adverts. For an issue that is as sensitive as this is, it cannot be poorly executed; however, it is through these mistakes that our approach to diversity in advertising will be better refined over time.

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