Nike is a prominent company that engages in brand activism, a marketing approach wherein they brand themselves as socially progressive by adopting public stances on controversial social issues. Because Nike resides at the intersection of media and sports, both of which are institutions that gender plays an important role in, an exploration of how Nike constructs gender in its commercials may illuminate the authenticity of its brand activism and progressive politics. Through a content analysis of 131 commercials released by Nike in the past decade, I explore whether their reputation as a socially progressive company extends to genuinely diverse and inclusive portrayals of gender in their commercials, or if they instead continue to rely on gender stereotypes. My results indicate that Nike commercials continue to treat sports as a predominantly masculine realm in which male athletes compete, therefore marginalizing athletes who are female or who do not display traditional masculine qualities. I also find that the bulk of athletes portrayed by Nike are those that adhere to gender stereotypes, indicating that Nike chooses to reinforce hegemonic masculine ideals rather than being genuinely inclusive and progressive in regard to gender.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Rasmussen, Kirsten, "Brand Activism and Gender: Nike as a Case Study" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 9007.
brand activism, gender stereotypes, sport typing, content analysis, Nike