By Barry Janoff
February 13, 2017: Nike has gathered together some of its most impactful athletes — including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, Gabby Douglas and Victor Cruz — to address an issue of global impact: Equality.
A multi-level cause-marketing campaign, "Equality," anchored by an anthem spot featuring its endorsers as well as actor Michael B. Jordan and singer Alicia Keys, seeks to show how Nike intends to use the power of sport to stand up for the value of equality.
"The effort is focused on encouraging people to take the respect and fairness they see on the field and translate it off the field," according to Nike. "Equality aims to inspire people to take action in their communities, part of a long history of Nike using its brand to speak out on causes important to its athletes and employees."
Nike said the "Equality" campaign was born out of two new company partnerships, with Mentor and PeacePlayers International, which plan to "drive change within communities (by) supporting organizations dedicated to diversity and inclusion through sport."
The alliances were unveiled in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In addition, Nike said it would donate $5 million in 2017 to numerous organizations to advance equality in communities across the U.S. and also encourage people to show their support “by taking action in their own backyard through programs such as Mentor or PeacePlayers.”
According to its Web site, PeacePlayers International "uses basketball to unite, educate and inspire young people to create a more peaceful world."
Mentor’s mission "is to fuel the quantity and quality of mentoring relationships for America’s young people and to close the mentoring gap."
The campaign is centered around a 90-second spot shot in black-and-white. Shots of basketball and tennis courts and school playgrounds are interspersed with shots of James, Williams, Durant and the other athletes.
Keys sings a cover version of Sam Cooke’s "A Change is Gonna Come."
Michael B. Jordan’s voiceover offers, "Is this what history promised? Here, within in these lines, on this concrete court. This patch of turf. Here you are defined by your actions not by your looks or beliefs. Equality should have no boundaries. The bonds we find here should run past these lines.”
Jordan continues, "Opportunity should not discriminate. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. Worth should outshine color.”
Jordan then starts the sentence, "If we can be equals here . . ." To which James finishes, "We can be equals everywhere."
Text then reads, "Equality has no boundaries."
A three-minute spot in color takes people behind the scenes of the campaign and offers additional insight into the "Equality" drive of Nike and its high-profile athletes.
"The effort is focused on encouraging people to take the respect and fairness they see on the field and translate it off the field."
Support includes Nike Equality T-shirts and footwear from Nike’s annual Black History Month collection; Internet, social media and on billboards and posters in cities around the U.S. and Canada "with imagery that features portraits of athletes and cultural icons."
In addition, Nike will promote it’s Equality platform during the upcoming NBA All-Star Game weekend in New Orleans.
The game was originally scheduled to be played in Charlotte until the NBA decide to move due to opposition to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which was seen as restricting anti-discrimination protections for members of the LBGT community in the state.
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