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Adbusters Vs. Nike

Despite his market dominance Phil Knight's sneaker empire is strangely vulnerable. Behind the ubiquitous swoosh lurks the uneasy knowledge that the Nike brand was built on sweatshop labor and by paying big bucks to celebrities to create a bogus corporate cool.
More and more people are feeling alienated by this kind of megabrand manufactured mindfuck. Time to think consumer revolt. We confront Phil "Uberswoosh" Knight, and, with a quick judo-like parry, slap him to the mat with the power of Nike's own PR thrust. Can a maverick band of social marketers on a shoestring budget bring the empire to its knees? That is exactly what our Blackspot venture aims to do.

September 15: Our campaign launches with a huge billboard near Phil's corporate HQ in Beaverton, Oregon. This cheeky little manoeuver will start a buzz in his office and let him and his staff know that the future is not friendly.

October 15: Black spots start appearing in and around sneaker stores worldwide. Niketowns are persistently blackspotted inside and out.

November 1st: Micro ads start popping up, first in the Portland Oregonian and other Pacific Northwest publications, then in national newspapers, magazines and zines.

November 15: Full-page ads start running in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Economist, The Weekly Guardian and alternative journals in the UK, Europe and Australia.

November 15: TV spots start airing on CBC Newsworld, MTV, CNN and FOX. This time we're selling a product, so broadcasters who have previously refused to sell us air time must now comply or face lawsuits.

Our $250,000 marketing budget will run out mid-November, so we're counting on thousands of jammers like you to keep painting symbolic red dots on your sneakers, adbusting Nike posters and billboards in your vicinity, and uncooling the swoosh every chance you get.

If we can cut into Nike's market share by even one percentage point, then we will have set a precedent that will inspire kick-ass marketing schemes in industry after industry - fast food, transportation, fashion, communications - and we'll keep on jamming and spreading the antibrand gospel until consumer sovereignty reigns once again over capitalism.

homepage: homepage: http://adbusters.org/metas/corpo/blackspotsneaker/kickassmarketing.html

Whatcha gonna do? 13.Sep.2004 13:59

Stept Init

Anyone hear what's going on locally (besides billboard) for this?

Is Adbusters still on track with their own shoe? 13.Sep.2004 15:06

Capitalism and activism strange bedfellows

I quit taking the Adbusters mag when they started advertising their own brand of shoe. What's up with that?

One 13.Sep.2004 15:06

Gash Darn

thing i want to make sure of is that none of you youngsters start visiting Nike Shoe Stores and leave eggs in the sneakers. That would not be nice.

shoe 13.Sep.2004 15:50


I might want to buy one if it didn't have that ugly "anti-logo" sploched paint thing.


If you red there rational it makes sense 13.Sep.2004 16:07

Migratory Bird

Look, maybe some of us don't live our lives according to a strict model of activism. Some of us have children and can't afford to go to jail to steal a pair of Nikes, block the woosh out and put a red dot at the tip. For those of us who make compromises within the capitalist system, but who have serious emotional problems with child labor we must, find shoes that do not fit the Nike criteria. When Nike got away with it they set a model for the shoe industry. Shoes that had been made in America for over a 100 years moved to Asia in order to keep there factories open. I understand that you did buy the magazine, but when it came to competing on the shoe level, that was too much for you. Excuse me if I say what a crock of shit.

On the shoe level, not on the magazine level is where we need to compete if we are really going to undo a system of very real exploitation.

This isn't just a battle of capitalism, this is a battle of feminism, this is a battle of child labor, this is a battle of labor, this is a battle of international law and trading agreements. I applaud Adbusters for going beyond selling magazines to wimps. We need to stand up and really do it. This is a chance at non sweatshop shoes, will you take it?

I agree 13.Sep.2004 16:18

that we need

clothing that isn't made in sweatshops. I object to the mixing of an entrepenuerial business with a magazine that proports to "culturejam". The magazine has become a marketing tool for the shoe. If Adbusters wants to sell clothing, it can create another company to do it. Kale Lasn is wealthy, and he knows how to do this right.

Exploiting our interest in the magazine to sell products of any sort is disengenuous.

why is it called blackdot? 13.Sep.2004 18:05

Anon E. Mouse

Why is it called the blackdot sneaker when it's got a white dot and a red dot?

Ironic 13.Sep.2004 18:11

Iron E

At about $40/pair I'm not sure many activists can afford them.

A few weird suggestions have been made 13.Sep.2004 19:52

Migratory Bird

Where do you get your info that the guy who edits Adbusters is wealthy?

I also wonder why it is that you make this allegation or why you ask that more business are set up to appease your anticapitalist attitude?

Also most of the activists I know can afford $40 for a pair of shoes. Why do you think that the only class who are activist are the poorer classes?

Maybe The Problem Isnt Just Nike!!! 13.Sep.2004 20:43

Soda-Pop tenwind@aol.com

Maybe the problem really is our addiction to all name brand products manufactured by muti-national corporations.Instead of directing people to boycott Nike or any other individual corporation,shouldnt we consider changing our purchasing habits to exclude all goods sold by irresponsible/repressive manufacturers?Its getting more and more difficult to find american made products,clothing esp.,So I prefer to buy everything I can used,about 90%.This keeps my cash from contributing directly to the corporations,and lessons the enviromental impact of manufacture and waste.

The one thing that should always be bought new are shoes 13.Sep.2004 21:10

Migratory Bird

I agree, but Nike really set the model for the modern sweatshop industry and for the child working in the sweat shop they say, why aren't you willing to take any concrete action? Why don't you support a concrete action. This action is both symbolic and concrete.

Yes, I buy most stuff used. I do that becuase it is something I belive in. I dumpster dive a great deal of my stuff to.

But when it comes to shoes you should always buy them new. See, I make a point of buying shoes from places that sound like they don't have a sweatshop. American, Italian, shoes. These shoes cost on sale about $80 or so. But their marketing gimmick is not about ending sweatshops but about elegance. It is not enough. For every 10 shoe stores I enter I find one, with a couple of pairs of shoes I can buy.

What I think is hillarious is that you talk of still shopping, at a thrift store (notoriously underpaid employees) instead of buying a cheap pair of brand new shoes... in order to negate this capitalist move (on Adbusters part). Your logic still does not add up.

Why not take a clear stand for the children and starving adults in other countries? Why not vow to kick Phill Knight's Ass?

It is not only humane it is fun!

Why not try to set new standards in the industry, provide honest labor, and really give a damn for once?

If you are against shopping, shop lift Nikes, erase the symbol accordingly, and put a red dot on the tip.

But if you do shop, why not try to shop caringly?

Why did Lasn diversify into sneakers? 13.Sep.2004 22:06


Kale Lasn is brilliant and he has a lot of money. The people who work at the Adbusters office in Vancouver told me on our pilgrimage there a couple of years ago.

I have been a supporter of Adbusters since their premiere issue, and have a hard time with the idea of Adbusters as a consumer product promoter. My husband surmises that Adbusters got into sneakers to show how branding works, and to dmmonstrate that even the most skeptical among us can be branded.

Sure are vague-- what a crock 13.Sep.2004 23:49

Migratory Bird

How heartfelt you sound confused.

But confused someone telling you that he has money isn't exactly proof or even providing proof.

How silly that you think that this is to show us how branding works. I guess you really don't have any clue what it feels like to have kids living in a third world country- like I do. It is my kids that could end up working shit jobs like this. Why don't you pull your head out of ass- and provide real facts and not just inferences- becuase these are KIDS you are condemning due to some vague ideological self righteosness. Bet you do shop. But somehow you can't be talked into shopping for this-

cause he may or may not have money...

What a crock!

Sorry you're angry, MB 14.Sep.2004 00:43


I wasn't inferring anything. I am wondering about the alliance between a foundation(Adbusters is funded by a foundation) and the marketing strategy for a tennis shoe. I think it's essential that people with more money than most of us have use it to create a better world.

As for my head being un my ass, it probably usually is. I buy a pair of shoes every two years. I noticed that they were made in Thailand last time I did(last October). They used to be made in Eurp. It's the only kind of shoe I can wear if I want to be able to walk without total pain, so I bought them. I only buy groceries at the food coop, and this summer have eaten almost exclusively from my own and a community garden. I trade clothes with other people, and sometimes buy used ones. Last night I bought a pair of wool pants on e-bay for $2. I do drive a car from time to time since I bashed up my knee. I travel lightly, by train or bus, on occasion. I do bathe once a day, for amusement as much as anything else. I dry my laundry on a clothesline, and patronize local purveyors of eats and art. I give the little money I have to organizations that look to be trying to help us live another way, and I'd always had a good feeling for the work of Adbusters until this sneaker thing came up. I have no truk with your concern about the slaves who make us comfy- I absolutely share your view, and believe that the Adbusters foundation could be more effective and genuine if they untied the magazine from the factory plan. The factory plan sounds like a good idea, and I hope it prospers. That's all. Sorry.

Keep it one and the same 14.Sep.2004 01:20

Migratory Bird

I think it is a conflict of interest to untie the magazine from the shoe. Problem is that this always done so we don't know what is behind what.

What if NBC said sure, the money that paid for the massacre's in Guatemala, that was us! We are GE and we have an interest in the genocide of the mayan people! We want you to spend more money on the products we advertise so that you can help us exterminate babies. Why? Beucase we sell arms, thats why!

But that didn't happen did it! Nope becuase they seperated their product from their news source and everybody was is ideological drool land. Yep, GE got their genocide, we got our ads and late night with letterman and everyone was happy. Oh there were a few glitches in the mechanization process of this but very few.

It would be nice if the product would remain tied to the news source. When was the last time you watched Letterman and thought I am watching the mouth peice of NBC which funds genocide?

Look, I appreciate your work and dedication. I do not think this proves The editor has money. I appreciate your honesty in dealing with the shoe issue. Most people end up making compromises, vegan vs sweatshops vs need shoes immediately for cheap kind of stuff. That is why I think bashing this is silly.

But as far as the editor and adbusters having money. Yep, they probably did. Now they are spending it. Sounds like on a pretty cool thing. Why not buy it? You bought adbusters. Why not help some other people too.

On one of my husbands and our first dates we got a cab to drive us up the coast. We wanted to eat at a wonderful little restaurant along the ocean. I said, "Oh, no that would be too expensive!" He responded, "What I have money, I want to spend it. He needs money (refering to the cab driver) I should not give him money?" It really made sense to me. "Yeah," I thought, "I guess the cab driver deserves a little of our hard earned cash too." It was a wonderful day, a beautiful sunset and we had a great time. I guess I think about the shoes the same way.

Fight them on all fronts 14.Sep.2004 14:35

And do not buy their poison

Or you will feed their fire!


where's the beef? 20.Sep.2004 21:02


So it's 9/20 where is the local billboard?? Where is the media campaign? Are adbusters just full of hot air?