Nike's latest ad backfired because it reminded people of a sweatshop

A recent Nike ad called “Unlimited Future” is drawing criticism online. 

The ad, which debuted on YouTube, is stirring controversy because it invokes imagery of sweatshops. Nike was criticised in the 1990s for allegedly using factories with poor working conditions. The company eventually apologised for failing to monitor factories. 

The video, which has over 7 million views, comes equipped with the tagline: “Champions weren’t born champions. They were born babies.”

On Twitter, Nike wrote, “Champions aren’t born. They’re made.”

“Listen up babies!” A man (Bobby Canavale) says to a room full of a babies in cribs — whose names are those of all star athletes, like Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Zhou Qi.  “Life’s not fair. You get no say in the world you’re born into. You don’t decide your name. You don’t decide where you come from. You don’t decide if you have a place to call home or if your whole family has to leave the country. Yeah, it’s messed up. You don’t decide how the world judges a person like you. You don’t decide how your story begins…but you do get to decide how it ends.”

It appears that what Nike is suggesting is benign — that anyone can work his or her way to becoming a champion — but people seem to think otherwise.

Commenters on YouTube were quick to point out the connection.”Were those babies filmed in one of your sweatshops?” One person wrote.

“Wait so Nike is now taking their workers as babies. This ad is right. that is f***ed up,” wrote another.

“Nike factory workers in about 2 years,” wrote another.

“Plot twist: these children will be raised into labour workers in sweat shops making Nike shoes at the age of 12…” another commented.

People also took to Twitter:




 The full video is below:

Nike publicizes its commitment to a safe working environment on its website.  The company has a code of conduct that states that employees are older than 16 years old, they do not work more than 60 hours per week, and that they are paid in a timely manner. 

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