Disturbing or Encouraging? Insight on Nike’s Ads Featuring Overweight Kids

There is a great deal of controversy over the new Nike ads. The most recent ad to drum up criticism features an overweight boy running down a deserted street. This seems to make a number of fans feel inspired to work out, while others feel exploited.

Typically, sporting goods companies use seriously fit athletes showing off their muscles in their advertisements. Instead, in Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign, overweight kids and other run of the mill, regular sized people are being used to motivate people to get in shape.

This message, that anyone can accomplish their goals no matter what you look like, is meant to inspire everyone in America, not infuriate viewers. But it seems that they’ve done both.

This campaign features regular, everyday people pushing their limits and getting in shape. Obesity is a growing problem all over the world, and the level of obesity in children is shocking. Everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done about it, but does this kind of ad accomplish that goal?

Many respondents say that this has inspired them and helped them. And I have to say, I agree. After watching the video a few times, I see a kid working his butt off to make himself stronger and more physically fit. And honestly, seeing buff workout fiends on ad campaigns doesn’t do the trick to inspire people who are severely out of shape, is can be discouraging. So in this aspect, Nike has done a good job to help everyday people feel like they can accomplish something.

200-pound kid in Nike ad determined to lose weight“Haters” motivate me to eat right and exercise. (Nathan Sorrell – Today Show)

The 12 year old featured in this ad is Nathan. He is loveable and people are proud of him and want him to feel better about himself and be healthy. But other viewers hate the idea, and feel like Nathan is being exploited or made fun of. Controversy soon started and YouTube views of the ad soared to over 1 million. Then it was learned that Sorrell wasn’t even a jogger. People were quick to attack Nike for trying to tackle America’s obesity epidemic and many had mean things to say about the “fat boy” who thought it sounded cool to try out for a Nike commercial.

Some viewers claim that the negative critics are making a big deal out of nothing. After all, it is just an ad campaign. Nike isn’t picking on the kid or making fun of overweight people. And they’re not even doing it to sell products- if you view the ad, you’ll notice that it doesn’t say Nike anywhere in the ad, and you can barely even see the kid’s tennis shoes. So they’re obviously not doing it for the money, they are trying to inspire people. They’re encouraging people to be their best, but nothing is forcing Nathan or anyone else to run. So who cares, in the end- it is just an advertisement.

While people may disagree on the Nike advertising strategy, it is an impactful campaign for millions of viewers who feel a new commitment to get off the couch and to work hard to get healthy. So can you really fault them for trying something different when the problem exists and isn’t getting any better? The one thing everyone can agree on? To cheer on Nathan as he strives for his personal greatness!




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