A recent Nike ad called “Unlimited Future” is drawing criticism online.
The ad, which debuted on YouTube, is stirring controversy because it invokes the imagery of a sweatshop. Nike was criticized in the 1990s for allegedly using factories with poor working conditions. The company eventually apologized 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 Cannavale) 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 a third.
“Plot twist: these children will be raised into labour workers in sweat shops making Nike shoes at the age of 12…,” a fourth commented.
People also tweeted:
I thought the new @Nike commercial was babies being trained to work in a sweatshop…
— Metronex (@Metronex_YT) July 25, 2016
Exclusive footage of a Nike sweatshop. https://t.co/QlC3crf4IJ
— Andy Salamonczyk (@andysala) July 25, 2016
nikes aren’t born , they’re made in a sweatshop
— Jacob (@szalbi2001) July 24, 2016
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, do not work more than 60 hours per week, and are paid in a timely manner.