Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, September 19, 2003  

Here's a variation on that old "a capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself" theory: Adbusters is marketing tennis shoes that will put Nike out of business. Or at least reap a PETA-like bonanza out of the press and focus a little attention on style and sweatshops.

Here's the scoop:

Adbusters Media Foundation intends to sell $60 pairs of plain canvas shoes marked with a black spot as a contrast to the flashy shoes made by Beaverton-based Nike. In the process, the group says it hopes to "transform capitalism" and make a statement about anti-corporate activism....

Adbusters plans to take out a full page ad in The New York Times within the next two months to promote its blackSpot sneaker campaign, designed to "show that we have the power to un-cool megabrands," said Kalle Lasn, the organization's founder. Proceeds from blackSpot shoe sales will be used to expand the campaign, which Lasn said could later target companies including McDonald's, ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart.

Sixty bucks? That's a lot for a shoe that looks a whole lot like, ahem, Nike-owned Chucks. But I digress. Adbusters appears to be taking it straight at Nike, making Portland ground zero for the campaign. The shoes are called BlackSpot, which is a pretty clever idea--for the assault, they can plaster black spots all over the city. Presumably, there's going to be some semi-legal, informal Nike ad blackspotting (Portland offers thousands of disgruntled "agents").

It's an interesting idea: capitalism as anti-capitalist advocacy. Adbusters' theory is that Nikes sell not because they're worth a hundred bucks, but because they have the cachet of Nike. So they'll use the inverse cachet to sell their own shoes. Like Royal Tenenbaum said it's, "kind of a 'fuck you' to the old man."

The old man, for his part, is not terribly frightened. He's been doing this a lot longer than Adbusters, and knows that pretty much any news is good news. The Nike spokesman immediately turned the campaign into a positive: "It's a testament to the strength of the Nike brand that Adbusters decided to specifically target Nike to leverage its own agenda."

In any case, it'll be pretty fun to watch from my prime seats here on the fifty-yard line. I'll keep you updated.

posted by Jeff | 8:59 AM |
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