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01/13/2009

You get it? It's because ballet's not stereotypically masculine. Need us to explain it, or can you grasp the subtle nuance?

by Jeremy Hooper

**NOTE, 4:30PM: Be sure to see update at bottom of post. There is a chance that this is not an actual ad, but rather a student art project

*** ***

**NOTE, 5:00PM: It has been confirmed to be a student ad done without Nike's involvement. So please ignore the snark lobbed in Nike's direction.

*** ***

ORIGINAL POST:

This print ad, which is making its way around these here Internets, is apparently running in CMYK Magazine:

"THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN GOING TO THE BALLET IS GOING TO THE BALLET TO WATCH YOUR SON"
(The bottom right reads, "RAISE A CHAMPION, NIKE KIDS.")

Wow, that's just great. Thanks sooooo much for that, Nike! We're sure the countless boys who enjoy the art of dance will find it easier to stretch on the ballet bar now that your ad department has so greatly lowered it!

What next, a "highbrow" campaign demeaning the female athletes who so greatly fill your company's coffers?

In the new issue of CMYK- this made me really angry [Gig Posters forum]
(H/t: Daimeon at PHB)

**UPDATE: Some are now telling us that this might not be an actual ad, but rather a student spec ad. We're not familiar with CMYK. We know it's a design mag -- but are company-branded ad projects something they usually run? And if so, does the company have to give its blessing?

If you have added insight, let us know. We've sent emails to several of the involved parties, and are trying to find a physical copy of the mag.

**UPDATE2: Okay, we have solid information. It is absolutely a student ad, not an official ad. In fact, from what we understand, Nike had absolutely nothing to do with it. A magazine spokesperson is supposed to be releasing a statement momentarily.

**UPDATE 3: Official response from CMYK:

1/13/09

It has been brought to my attention through a couple of blogs and organizations that a fictitious print advertisement for Nike, Inc., published on page 10 of the most recent issue of CMYK Magazine, has offended some people - namely in the gay and lesbian communities. Please know that this ad created by an art student is in no way affiliated with Nike, nor does it express the views and opinions of Nike, Inc.

To offer some background, CMYK Magazine publishes juried work from art students studying advertising (copywriting and art direction), design, illustration and photography.
The work published in CMYK Magazine is chosen from thousands of submissions and final selections are determined by notable art-design professionals.

The class assignment in question reads as follows: "The Only Thing Worse Than Going to the Ballet Is Going to the Ballet to Watch Your Son." The tagline reads: "Raise a Champion."

The context in which I, personally, read the ad was as a rather risqué parody on the old-fashioned notion that macho guys don't wants their sons to join the ballet in favor of playing linebacker for the local high school football team.

As with all "art," there are multiple interpretations. What determines a piece of art's meaning hinges on the context in which each individual brings to the piece.

While I cannot speak for the student who created the ad, or the judge who selected it, I would like to sincerely apologize to anyone -- and every organization as a whole - who takes personal offense by the publishing of this class assignment.

I assure you it was not my intent - or the intent of anyone affiliated with CMYK Magazine - to defame or cause harm to any person or social organization as a result of publishing this piece. Please know that your feedback and commentary to this ad has been heard loud and clear, and I welcome more of your opinions.

I hope you accept my apology and, most importantly, thank you for your time and consideration.


Very Sincerely,
Curtis Clarkson
President
CMYK Magazine, Inc.

**UPDATE, 1/14: Official response from Nike:

Nike Statement
The 42nd edition of CYMK Magazine features numerous fictitious advertisements incorporating the actual trademarks of various brands. This creative content is routinely submitted by design students for their portfolios and competition. One such fictitious ad featuring Nike football (soccer) footwear and creative elements contains language that is considered offensive and not consistent with Nike's values.

We have already been in touch with CYMK Magazine. Their editorial team has agreed to take appropriate steps to clarify the nature of this fictitious ad both on their website and next issue of their publication. They have also issued an apology for causing confusion among many Nike consumers who viewed the originally published content.

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

You'd think they'ed have learned after the "face meets crotch" commercial.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Jan 13, 2009 2:30:01 PM

I hate Nike. How that company ever came out of a progressive city like Portland is mysterious. Screw Phil Knight!

Posted by: David | Jan 13, 2009 2:58:53 PM

What's odd is that on Nike's web site they brag about their diversity programs including LGBT organizations like Stonewall (UK), and The NGLCC.

"Nike also joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions program for employers in 2006. Diversity Champions is Britain’s good practice forum for Sexual Orientation issues in the workplace. Nike works closely with Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay equality organization, and other members of the program, to improve the working environment for our lesbian, gay and bisexual employees."
http://www.nikebiz.com/careers/diversity.html


"We are incorporating
certified Gay Lesbian Bisexual
Transgender-owned supplier dollars into
addressable spend by collaborating
with the National Gay and Lesbian
Chamber of Commerce to determine
proper certification processes."
http://www.nikeresponsibility.com/pdfs/color/7_Nike_CRR_Diversity_C.pdf

Posted by: Daimeon | Jan 13, 2009 3:28:59 PM

I haven't seen the actual issue of CMYK, so I don't know for sure, but I have a feeling it's someone's juvenile spec ad and not a real advertisement paid for by Nike. I would wait to pass official judgment until seeing it in context.

That said, it still pisses me off!

Posted by: I Feel Crazy | Jan 13, 2009 4:03:06 PM

IFeelCrazy: I'm not familiar with CMYK. I know it's a design mag -- but are company-branded ad projects something they usually run? And if so, does the company have to give its blessing?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 13, 2009 4:09:09 PM

@G-A-Y: They have annual student work issues, where they show case student work. Many are fake ads for real companies. Not sure about the permission of the company--I think they can get away with it because it's coursework.

But seeing how quickly and easily things can snowball online, you have to wonder how long that'll last. I wonder whose "genius" copywriting that Nike ad is?

Posted by: I Feel Crazy | Jan 13, 2009 4:25:25 PM

Nike is pretty progressive on GLBT issues. I'm quite surprised to see an ad like this with Nike's logo on it...

Posted by: Jessica | Jan 13, 2009 4:30:58 PM

IFeelCrazy: You do have a point, I remember (I still have the issue) a special edition of XY Magazine from a few years back that was entirely photography. And some of the featured art in the beginning of the issue was fake sexy gay targeting ads, ironically, one of which was a Nike ad with the slogan "Just Do It" below a picture of 3 guys butt to crotch bouncing a basket ball. So it is possible, but for some reason I just don't think that kind of thing would get through especially in a magazine that is probably (I know, sounds stereotypical) in a design mag.

Posted by: Daimeon | Jan 13, 2009 4:43:14 PM

"I just don't think that kind of thing would get through especially in a magazine that is probably (I know, sounds stereotypical) in a design mag."

Yea, now there are several questions. First, is it a real ad? If not, did Nike gives its approval? And then -- why did anyone think it was a smart decision?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 13, 2009 4:48:06 PM

Now I feel like an ass. Sorry, Jeremy.

Posted by: Daimeon | Jan 13, 2009 5:04:08 PM

Daimeon: Don't be silly. This was a super-honest mistake, one that has duped several others (Google it).

It's very odd that an ad like this could be created with a company's logo and printed in a national magazine without the company being involved. Plus, the question still remains, even in student spec form: Why did anyone, the student or the mag, think this ad was a good idea?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 13, 2009 5:12:41 PM

Ironically, ballet dancers (male or female) are far more fit and are better athletes than the vast majority of people who buy Nikes.

Posted by: JesMe | Jan 13, 2009 7:45:11 PM

For ad classes, it's common practice to use the exact logo and representation of the company/brand you're creating spec-ads for. The companies/brands don't mind as long as it's not published out in the real world, with the major exception being CMYK Mag. CMYK is designed to highlight outstanding student work, whether art or conceptual.

Honestly, I was surprised at the backlash directed towards this ad. People jumped to all sorts of conclusions with little to no information. It makes me sad that some LGBT groups and people are so quick to condemn while at the same time ask for acceptance.

At least we, as a community, can own up to our mistakes, apologize for getting our feathers rustled over nothing, and move on.

And for the record, Nike IS a good company for LGBT issues. They deserve at least an apology from the people who were screaming "BOYCOTT" like it was the Civil Rights Movement all over again. We're not Focus on the Family, people.

Posted by: Zach | Jan 13, 2009 7:57:15 PM

"They deserve at least an apology from the people who were screaming "BOYCOTT" like it was the Civil Rights Movement all over again"

Well Zach, now I think you're being a little unfair. I don't really see anyone who was calling for a "boycott." This was an honest reaction to an easily understandable mixup.

And in terms of condemnation, that was mostly directed towards the content of the ad, which remains the same. It's a bad ad message, spec or not.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 13, 2009 8:22:03 PM

The content is extremely painful to many. My nephew, who was not a jock, but rather interested in music and sociology...was completely...rephrase that, IS completely ignored by his football playing, Marine, Korea injured vet father. 44 years of 'living in hell' because he is sweet and loving and kind..luckily he found a lovely wife, and has two splendid children who will be able to be whatever they want to be I am sure. I can only imagine what would have happened had he been interested in ballet.
...and JesMe is so very correct. Ballet dancers are splendid physical specimens!

Posted by: LOrion | Jan 14, 2009 12:05:59 AM

While art is open to interpretation, graphic design has a message and part of the success of the design is getting that message across. This ad does just that, the homophobia comes across very well.

Posted by: gleeindc | Jan 14, 2009 6:37:59 AM

Speaking as someone who has taken a year of modern dance classes (with a bar routine that is 99% classical) and five months of jazz dance, I totally agree with JesMe. Anyone who thinks ballet or dance in general isn't very "manly" needs to only take a single hour-long class to have their preconceptions shattered.

And lets face it, as a rule, dancers are hot.

Posted by: Jarred | Jan 14, 2009 10:41:17 AM

Agreed, Jarred. I played baseball my entire young life, and took a few dance classes in college. The latter was much more physically demanding.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 14, 2009 10:46:16 AM

I agree with the other posters. I know several male ballet dancers (even straight ones!). They are amazingly agile and strong. Don't ever get in a fight with a dancer - they will beat your ass!

Posted by: Michael-david | Jan 14, 2009 12:37:26 PM

As quickly as stuff like this can get plastered all over the Internet these days, I would not be surprised to see an end to using real companies in student projects like this one.

Posted by: Bonnie_Half-Elven | Jan 14, 2009 1:04:54 PM

Yeah, the student who designed this has serious latency issues. Probably a closeted jock "type" who goes around calling people faggots. I will never spend another dime on CMYK, and I run a huge creative shop in DC. I wouldn't buy sweatshop Nike products, anyway.

Posted by: MichaelFHDC | Jan 14, 2009 3:47:20 PM

CMYK editor Curtis Clarkson must think we're idiots if he expects anyone to believe it is a parody of what macho guys think (see quote below). The object of the joke is the effeminate ballet dancer pictured in the ad.

Clarkson: "The context in which I, personally, read the ad was as a rather risqué parody on the old-fashioned notion that macho guys don't wants their sons to join the ballet in favor of playing linebacker for the local high school football team."

That's the most pathetic defense of stupidity I've heard in a long while.

Posted by: Kevin | Jan 14, 2009 3:55:43 PM

The class assignment is at fault. The tag line suggested by the instructor contains the viewpoint that fathers should be ashamed of sons in ballet. A common reality yes, but so is wife-beating. Is either appropriate for an add campaign? No. We can be better than this.

Posted by: ButchSF | Jan 14, 2009 4:07:55 PM

ButchSF: No, actually it's just confusing wording. I checked with Curtis -- he did not mean to imply that the text and tag line were assigned to the student. The student created the ad from scratchfFor his portfolio.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 14, 2009 4:18:05 PM

I know a number of people who work for Nike, and like most apparel and design firms, it has a very LGBT friendly corporate culture.

It's also important to bear in mind that most advertising is created through outside firms.

Posted by: TB | Jan 14, 2009 4:25:52 PM

TB: Read the updates -- Nike has been disconnected from this. It was a student art project that used Nike's logo without the company's knowledge or consent.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 14, 2009 4:34:36 PM

Nike is over. This should nail their coffin shut.

Posted by: andrea Swartz | Jan 14, 2009 7:10:39 PM

I for one was offended by this ad being a straight male dancer. I am currently a dance major at the university of minnesota. Many people may think that dancing is "gay" if your a man, but they do not understand what it takes to be a dancer. Idk it just makes me angry, even though it was a student work.

Posted by: Kye-l | Jan 16, 2009 11:44:35 PM

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