Nike's had a generally good track record of World Cup ads, until their recent "Paving The Way" spot raised some eyebrows. It features young soccer players thanking the Men's National Team for inspiring them, and doesn't feature a single girl.
It certainly is kind of curious that Nike didn't include any young female players in the commercial, since this has been the first World Cup in my memory to grab the attention of just about everyone — diehards and casuals, sports fans and non-sports-fans, men and women. But I might have written it off as "the campaign is called 'Write The Future,' and these boys are the future of the USMNT" if I hadn't seen some anger out there about it.
From Needs More Kittens:
Who's shown matters, and even more, who's excluded matters. What Nike is saying here, intention aside, is that only boys can be inspired by the men's national team. Only boys can take pride in "that goal," or the other goal. Girls? You're invisible, and therefore irrelevant, unless you grow up "hot" and we can use your body to sell shirts for the men's team.
Her argument kind of went all straw man at the end there, but the point's valid: if this is about fans and not the players, it isn't just young boys that the National Team's moment in the sun spoke to.
Allow me a half-hearted defense of Nike: frankly, us boys need this.
The highest rated soccer match in America is still the Women's World Cup final in 1999. Women's soccer, you're so much better and more successful that our men's team. You've won two of the five Women's World Cups, and placed third in the other three. Our men's team? Hasn't been on the podium since 1930.
You've already embarrassed those of us who like to claim that America won't embrace soccer, and that's why our men's teams haven't done jack. So let us have our boys' club commercials. We already know there are girls out there inspired by Landon Donovan's goal, who are going to lead us to glory 10 years down the line. We don't know that there are any boys who will ever help us get to the semis.
Don't take this away from us.
That being said, are you sure you want giant marketing machines trying to sell soccer to young girls?