Spotted this Nike ad on the Le Meridien hotel as we were on our way to Krewe Du Vieux Saturday. You may have noticed, as the city gets ready to host the NBA All Star Game, that brands are taking over all of the available scenery.
If you need a reminder that the NBA All-Star Game is coming to New Orleans this weekend, look skyward.As we know, the reason NBA is here making a mess out of the first weekend of parade season in the first place is because North Carolina's hateful bathroom law shamed them out of Charlotte. Nike's PR is happy to capitalize on that. The ads it's plastering onto Benson Tower and some of our high end hotels convey a feel good smarmy message about "Equality" in order to drive the point home to anyone who asks that their brand is one of the good guys.
Adorning Benson Tower on Poydras Street is a 250-foot image of New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. Farther down the street is an enormous visage of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, plastered on Le Meridien's wall.
And then there is a Nike campaign, also splashed across the sides of downtown buildings, with the message, "The Ball Should Bounce the Same for Everyone."
Company officials said in a statement that the campaign evolved out of conversations that have been ongoing within the company for more than a year.Of course that is less than exactly true of this particular company. They do have a long history of cynically claiming to care about these issues. But that isn't the same thing.
“We believe it’s important to speak up on issues that are important to our athletes, consumers, employees and communities,” the statement said. It said the “Equality" campaign "raises Nike’s voice and uses the power of sport to stand up for the value of equality. We have a long history of promoting equality on issues of race, gender and sexual orientation.”
Although they may be unfamiliar with Nike’s global campaign, the goal of the women I spoke with sounds a lot like the Girl Effect—to raise themselves and their families out of poverty. Each of the 18 women, however, reported pay so low they could not even meet the basic needs of their families, let alone save money or contribute to their communities. (Four had been laid off less than three months before we met, after their factory building burnt down; they spoke only about their wages and child care, cautious of giving critiques that might jeopardize their chances of getting hired back.) They told me that they would need to earn between three to four times their current salaries to offer their families a basic level of economic security. The average monthly wage for manufacturing in Vietnam was $200 in 2015. Their stories highlighted something the Girl Effect campaign is silent about: the importance of a living wage.Unsurprisingly, the Advocate's glowing feature on the wraparound ads doesn't ask questions about this. Less surprisingly, even, people all over New Orleans are sharing these corporate slogans on social media and gloating about how proud they are that our "blue" city is #woke enough to have been blessed with them.
I also found evidence that Nike’s contract factories breach basic Girl Effect tenets of freedom from exploitation and harassment, security, safety, and Nike’s own Code of Conduct, put in place to prohibit, among other things, harassment, abuse, and nonconsensual overtime. Women who worked in different factories told remarkably similar stories of being subjected to arbitrary punishments—such as financial penalties and threats of dismissal for making manufacturing mistakes, not working quickly enough, or coming in late, along with intimidation and ongoing humiliation by managers.
Finally, although the Girl Effect champions the importance of women protecting and empowering their own children, the women in Vietnam explained to me why their low wages make it impossible for them to ensure their children’s safety. The 10 mothers with young children whom I spoke with either send their children to unlicensed child care services they consider underqualified or dangerous or they leave them with family in home villages they are able to visit only once or twice a year.
Thus propaganda and fake news feed off one another to further benefit the oligarchs. Same story every day.