Curvy Mannequins Are Nike’s Latest Controversial Brand Stand
Nike’s plus-size clothing sales may rise 10 to 35% with the brand’s addition of curvy mannequins, but the brand stand in favor of inclusivity isn’t the sportswear company’s first step into controversy.
Nike’s flagship store in London is adding plus size mannequins 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ClbRUFlW8Q
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 9, 2019
A sportswear-clad, plus size mannequin in Nike’s London store prompted praise, “it’s about time” scorn, and some fat-shaming — with one negative response from a surprising source.
On Sunday, Tanya Gold writes in The Telegraph’s “Obese Mannequins Are Selling Women a Dangerous Lie” that:
“The new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of #Nike?”
Tanya Gold: 'The new mannequin is obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement. What terrible cynicism is this on the part of #Nike?' https://t.co/51VmvUCxLE
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) June 9, 2019
Is the Brand Stand All About Increasing Sales?
If Gold thinks that Nike is chiefly trying to sell sportswear in plus sizes, rather than taking a brand stand for inclusivity as its statement said, there is some proof that 3D depictions do help customers imagine themselves in the clothing. 3dotsdesign.com writes in April 2018:
“Mannequins are unique in their ability to engage customers. They provide strong visual appeal, and trigger an emotional purchase response. Increasing sales by as much as 35 percent, they are an investment worth every penny.”
Direct mail and print marketing proponents say the tactile is personal, and 3dotdesign.com contends that the 3D aspect of mannequins helps customers imagine themselves in the clothing. And, considering plus size mannequins are new to Nike, that could change plus size clothing sales. (Customers may also buy more items than they’d originally planned, if they see how the outfit works on the mannequin.)
3dotdesign.com further states:
“Mannequins create eye appeal and visual interest. Because clothing displayed on a mannequin stands out from a rack of similarly fashioned apparel, it triggers an emotional purchase response. Some fashion merchandising experts believe this response occurs in as little as seven seconds. At its best, merchandising aims to evoke such an emotional response. When customers engage on an emotional level, sales increase exponentially.”
Is the Brand Stand Exclusively About Inclusivity?
Even as some participants in the 2019 Philadelphia Pride Parade and Festival may have stepped out on Sunday in Nike Air Max 720 BETRUE rainbow-colored shoes from the brand’s LGBTQIA+-friendly line, Nike had just debuted the plus size and parasports mannequins in London. (Gold’s objection to Nike welcoming those resembling the mannequins into “the mainstream” didn’t appear to extend to people with disabilities.)
And there’s Nike’s statement, quoted by CNN on June 6:
“To celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of sport, the space will not just celebrate local elite and grassroot athletes through visual content, but also show Nike plus size and para-sport mannequins for the first time on a retail space.”
Is the Brand Stand a Continuation of Nike’s Branding?
Even before Marc S. Pritchard — chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble who is known to be a marketing influencer and recently called for brands to only partner with reliable media — said in October 2018 that brands should take stands on societal issues, Nike had taken such a stand.
“Nike just did it. The shoe giant is trending on Twitter in a big way for its #JustDoIt campaign, but not just because @Nike retweeted Colin Kaepernick. It’s the content of that tweet and what it represents — Nike is taking a stand on protests against injustice that Kaepernick led while he was in the NFL. No longer employed by the NFL, Kaepernick is still the face of those protests — which may begin again as football resumes this week.
“ ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,’ is emblazoned across Kaepernick's face in the ad. And it says something about the brand, too. While Nike is based just outside of Portland, the Oregon-headquartered brand isn’t necessarily known for being as liberal as the city. This changes that.”
And Nike’s inclusive, liberal brand stands continue.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
What do you think, marketers?
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