Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Commercial Analysis by Julianna Salman

Nike has been one of the leading companies to create a strong image for themselves all over the world. Their products are well known for their quality and durability, and they are established and well-respected by its consumers. The unique selling approach to Nike is that they are known for possessing an unparalleled marketing campaign; they created an ideology along with selling a product. The quality of their products is already known, Nike has been placed at the top of the hierarchy of brand salience. What Nike offers, as far as positioning, is a sense of cultural belonging, the promise of individual accomplishment, and encourages dreams of parity with the world's greatest athletes. Nike is able to create this commodity sign and brand image through their latest commercial titled The Human Chain.

This commercial is visually stunning and powerful thanks to the cinematography and editing to create this fluid movement throughout the piece. It is showcasing the skills of top athletes, featuring an eclectic mix of talents including, Lance Armstrong, LaDanian Tomilson, Maria Sharipova, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and Derron Williams. Along with these world class athletes, the ad also features regular athletes, especially younger children, working on improving their skills. The video also features the track "Ali in the Jungle" by British band, the Hours. The song is the narrative of the commercial, where the lyrics are used as Nike's intention of simply asking you if you get knocked down, how quick are you going to get up?

The opening shot of the first sequence is of a runner with prosthetic legs at the starting line of the track in an empty stadium. The music begins, with a close up of his prosthetic legs, then we see a wide of him taking off at the sound of the gun. There are multiple images of the same athlete running, showing his progression down the track. While he is shown wearing Nike apparel, the focus is more on his performance. The commercial is called the human chain because it is creating a beautiful, unbroken chain of human movement using the time lapse photography style.

In the third shot we see the transition from the track star to the soccer player, again it is in the same format of this time-lapse imagery where we see multiple images of the same person moving differently and simultaneously. While the music continues to play, the style of how this commerical was shot urges you to push forward while looking back at your displacement from just a split-second ago, as one short action is actually a chain of events sparked by the will to progress and move forward. The audience continues to see this through other athletic disciplines such as basketball, tennis, martial arts, bmx, bull riding. Seeing these different athletes working hard and practicing with such determination, Nike is attempting to reach a broad audience and hoping to inspire them by showing them how these athletes perform.

Nike's intention is to inspire the consumer, its positioning is to be memorable, not necessarily focusing on the use of the product but what the product represents. The commercial uses an extraordinary and excessive style to capture individualism and progress. It is appealing to a higher sense of excellence and instills a sense of individual accomplishment. There's a lot of emotional raw power throughout this commerical because towards the middle of these great athletes' practices there is conflict. In this shot the chain crashes and as the athlete, mixed martial artists, Rampage Jackson falls down. There is close up shot of him on the ground lying there for a still moment. The song is extremely important in this clip because it says "everybody gets knocked down" repeatedly. This moment creates a very organic feeling of how humans, even the best athletes in the world, are not perfect. The beauty of this scene is that it is not glamorized or glorified, it embodies failure and how one can get out of sync or break off from the chain. By showing a top athlete falling down and failing it makes it more relatable to the consumer, it has a very realistic approach and persuades them that even these god-like athletes are not perfect and do have to work hard.

The following shot is of the same athlete immediately getting back up to his feet after the following words from the song say "how quick are you gonna get up?" The chain is then back into sync transitioning to the next sport, football, as the football player is seen pushing his way through the opposing team again in the same multiple image format.

The final shot has the most impact as it is a continuation of the human chain with the last featured athlete, Lance Armstrong. It shows a smooth transition of him riding down the roadside, with extreme focus and determination. Also you can see more of the Nike brand and his partnership with his Livestrong campaign. Here the ad not only draws on our knowledge of the content presented but on our knowledge of the world. For example the ad pushes the audience to want to do further research of these athletes and find out what their struggles are, and how they accomplished so much while facing these obstacles. Putting Lance Armstrong at the very end left a strong impression because of the use of intertextuality. The audience knows his relationship with Nike and struggle with cancer and Tour de France victories. His success solidifies Nike’s intended message of the advertisement.

Nike draws interconnections with their product and various popular sports, that relate to individual athletic success with prominent athletes constructing a convincing world of symbols, ideas, and values harnessing the desires of individuals to the consumption. From Lance Armstrong on his bike, to a six-year-old in China learning martial arts, movement is the universal language that connects us all. It’s a language of beauty, drama, tragedy and triumph. And the road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure.

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