do you say nothing yourself?
in a musical landscape where "indie" is often a term thrown around to define a sound or gain street cred, we often forget there are truly independent artists and labels. people who work hard and stick to their underground principles, and make a difference and set an example. perhaps the most extreme and admirable example is set by dischord records, home of fugazi and their predecessors, minor threat.
minor threat were the blueprint for so many hardcore bands, whether straightedge or not. i know that and i'm not even close to an expert in that type of music. someone else who must have also known that apparently works for nike's advertising agency. in an obvious ploy to sell sneakers to skater kids, nike's recent ad campaign clearly swipes the cover art from the minor threat CD. the changes are so minor as to be negligible, and clearly not for parody, which would be the only halfway acceptable defense.
dischord is not pleased at all. the label has always stood for exactly the opposite of everything nike is really about. their ubiquitous ad campaigns aside, nike is reportedly one of the worst offenders as far as american companies using sweatshop labor (as detailed in the brilliant book no logo), though they claim to have stopped using it. in fact the company itself amounts to almost nothing; it's my understanding that barring a small board of directors and similar decision-makers, every function of the company is outsourced, which is what makes them so successful (and so untouchable should any part of their operation come into question), and their products so insanely marked-up. this is in stark contrast to dischord, a band-run label that practically invented DIY while keeping prices at a minimum.
whatever path dischord chooses, i hope nike's plan ultimately backfires on them. it would be great if the target audience for this campaign recognizes how blatantly they're being marketed to, their ideas being mocked and their intelligence insulted all the while. as consumers, we vote with our dollars or lack of them.
sadly, nike's true target audience may in fact not even be the hardcore punks or skaters, but bored middle class teenagers who don't know or care about the background of the situation and follow the thought process "that looks cool. skater punks are cool. nike is cool. i want nikes."
late breaking news, 4:22 pm: apparently the uproar over this has been loud enough to cause nike to pull the ads and apologize. still, they got what they wanted: tons of national attention for their brand. remember the old saying, "i don't care what you say about me, just make sure you spell my name right." i'd like it if somehow something could be done to teach nike a lesson that this isn't something they can keep doing. their sales going in the toilet over this would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath.
the title of this post comes from the song DIY by peter gabriel.