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Controversial Nike Ad Leaves Netizens Wondering What Exactly They Are Looking At
By Yoon Sann Wong, 21 Aug 2018
Image via TuiPhotoEngineer / Shutterstock.com
Since Instagram opened advertising to brands and companies, users have found themselves being greeted by unexpected commercials while browsing through ‘Stories’.
One Instagram user who goes by the Reddit handle ‘rob-delaney’ chanced upon a sponsored ‘Stories’ post by Nike that took him by surprise and left him doing a double take.
Under the Reddit thread titled I thought this guy from a Nike ad was pointing a gun at me, the user shared the Nike ‘Sport Pack’ advertisement photo, which was captured at an angle that has the featured bicycle handle getting mistaken for not only a gun, but also a paint roller, selfie stick, and even crutches by other Redditors who responded under ‘/r/CrappyDesign’.
What started out as a seemingly innocuous photo, taken from a less-than-straightforward angle, has sparked a discussion about implicit biases and left Redditors divided between the ad being a “brilliant design”—because it has people talking—and a “stupidly shitty design”—because it can appear racist when perceived at an angle that seems intentionally produced by the sports giant.
The thread’s moderator clarified, “This seems to be both purposeful and effective design considering the amount of attention it’s gotten here. Unfortunately it’s design that plays into people’s prejudices so we’re going to lock this for a while to give us a chance to clean up the racist comments from everyone.”
Original poster ‘rob-delaney’ wrote, “I can see how this can be seen as accidental racism (I promise you I’m not racist) but if it was any other color skinned person I’d think a gun was being pointed at me too lol,” to which user ‘ProfessorPumpkaboo’ replied, “Don’t worry, black chick here and at a quick side eye glance, it looked like a gun to me too lol.”
User ‘somethingaboutwhales’ explained, “As someone else pointed out, it might be an inherent bias reaction, which doesn’t mean you are a racist. This type of image of a young black man dressed in street wear with this kind of pose often contains a weapon. It’s in movies, album covers, graffiti etcetera. That’s why I think for many people they see a flash of a gun at first then have a hard time seeing the gun again. The point is at first glance your brain said gun probably because of many images you’ve seen before.”
“It’s still crappy design, because biases and knee jerk reaction to images should be part of a QA process on a marketing team for a large company.”
As for whether the angle was intentional or not, ‘FreemanForever’ believes it was, “You did a double take, so did I. We’re talking about it. That’s what they wanted.”
‘BeigeAler1’ commented, “That’s actually (probably) brilliant design. Makes you look at it because it’s not every day you see an ad with someone pointing a gun at you… only then do you realize it’s not a gun at all.”
See more highlight responses from the thread below.
[via Reddit, main image via TuiPhotoEngineer / Shutterstock.com]
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