Academic journal article Nebula

Swoosh Time: Nike's Art of Speed Advertizing Campaign and the Blogosphere

Academic journal article Nebula

Swoosh Time: Nike's Art of Speed Advertizing Campaign and the Blogosphere

Article excerpt

      O, most wicked speed, to post 
   With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! 
                           (Hamlet, I, ii) 
      The reality of time has been replaced 
      by the advertisement of time. 
                           (G. Debord) 

The 'problem of time' is conjectured to "become to the twenty-first century what fossil fuels and precious metals were to previous epochs" (Shaw & Weibel 562). This paper, while sharing such a conviction, focuses on what I define as the 'dromology of consumption' (1) by discussing Nike's Art of Speed ad campaign. In May 2004 Gawker media designed a blog micro-site for Nike to promote the project, which consisted of a short film series showing 15 digital artists' interpretation of the concept of speed. Web logs (better known as blogs) are beginning to surface as part of the marketing landscape and the campaign represented an interesting new approach to blog advertising. This paper discusses the impact of the contemporary culture of acceleration on the phenomenon of Internet branding, and engages with the interaction of commercialism and art in the context of today's new media practices. The short films produced by the 15 digital artists who were commissioned to create their own visions of speed through a "Nike lens" (to quote from the Gawker blog) are contrasted with the discourse of speed developed by the Australian artist David Noonan. In Noonan's videos, speed has been voided of competition or a useful end. These are never ending races, infinite loops without a winner, in which speed becomes almost hypnotic, to the point where it reaches its limit: inertia.

Swoosh Time

Nike is most famous for 'The Swoosh,' (2) the term given to the symbol that appears on Nike products. The design of the swoosh logo was inspired by the wing of the Greek goddess Nike. An important aspect of identification is the name associated with the product: Nike is the personification of victory--a goddess that can run and fly at great speed--Nike's corporate identity revolves around the concepts of victory, success and speed. (3) As if it were a living organism, Nike has appropriated the same conception of speed, making it part of its own genetic code, its own history or genealogy. (4) This is apparent if we consider the 'NikeGenealogy' web site ('Nike' in red in the original. The two words are fused to stress their symbolic connection). (5)

Before entering the site we are invited to turn off any pop up blocking software, in order "to enjoy the fastest possible experience". Once inside, we are presented with "The History of Speed"--a la Nike, of course--and with the following short text in a rapid sequence:

Speed is our Obsession

These are the Stories that make us who we are

This is our family history

This is our GenealogyofSpeed (words fused in the original)

This text is soon followed by the image of a rather atypical genealogical tree made up of Nike's shoes, from Geoff Hollister's Steeplechase shoe of 1972 to the 'Zoom Monsterfly' shoe of 2004 (the web site, produced in the run up to the 2004 Olympic Games, has not been updated since). Admittedly, Nike has always been clever in its advertising campaigns at blending themes of personal empowerment and transcendence with media irreverence. (6) The Genealogy of Speed is only one of several web sites produced by the company in the attempt to use the Internet for brand communication or 'brand imprinting', i.e. implanting in the consumer's memory a brand 'node' that links a variety of associations--brand name, brand characteristics, advertisements about the brand etc. In this case, the sort of associations the site is meant to foster are: the global corporation Nike has 'human' characteristics, making it similar to any other living being, Speed is in its DNA (in an interesting amalgam of genetic terminology and software language code, the script 'loading Genome' flashes in front of our eyes before the image of the genealogical tree appears). …

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