Cavaliers, Multimedia

LeBron James stars in new “Equality” spot from Nike (Video)

A new short film from Nike which features Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James will come equipped with a multi-platform rollout including a full-page newspaper spread video, and interactive social media engagement. Titled “Equality,” Nike combines the power of spoken word with music from Alicia Keys, infusing James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, and more.

Here’s the press release:

Nike has a long history of speaking up for causes that reflect its values. That continues today with the launch of EQUALITY, in which Nike encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field.

EQUALITY is centered on using Nike’s voice and the power of sport to inspire people to take action in their communities, with Nike leading by example with its recently announced partnerships with world-class organizations dedicated to advancing this work.

A new film, simply titled “Equality,” anchors these values in the power of sport. The film, directed by Melina Matsoukas, features LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, Gabby Douglas, and Victor Cruz, amplifying their voices in an effort to uplift, open eyes and bring the positive values that sport can represent into wider focus. “Equality” also features actor Michael B. Jordan, who voices the film, and a new performance by Alicia Keys, singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

The EQUALITY initiative will live at nike.com/equality, in social media and on billboards and posters in cities around the U.S. and Canada, with imagery that features portraits of athletes and cultural icons. In addition, Nike will enable people to create their own EQUALITY avatar or social media filters to express their support.

Lastly, EQUALITY T-shirts, and shoes from Nike’s annual Black History Month collection, which has historically supported organizations serving youth and their communities, will be available for purchase via nike.com and select retail. The 2017 Black History Month collection will be worn by many Nike-sponsored players throughout NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans in February. The EQUALITY tee is a symbol of Nike’s unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“We all have a purpose in life and for us to be as great as we can be as a nation and as a world, we have to feel empowered,” James said in a behind-the-scenes video where the athletes discussed the film. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to find a way where we can all feel equal, be equal, have the same rights and be in the same place no matter the color. It’s always a sensitive subject, but at the same time it needs to be talked about. For me to use my influence in a manner like this, it means a lot.”

LeBron James Equality Nike

Nike

Astute observers of James’ portion of the film will recognize the city of Cleveland. The four-time MVP had his spot filmed at the intersection of E. 6th and Superior, just north of the Leeder Building right outside of The Federal Reserve. Equally astute observers will notice that the film, despite having been in the works for some time, is released just days after Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank received loads of backlash after he praised President Donald Trump, including critical comments from several of the brand’s top athletes.

A full-page ad for the initiative is set to run in newspapers across the country on February 12.

LeBron James Equality Nike

As mentioned in the press release, Nike is also encouraging fans of the brand to create unique avatars to run alongside the campaign for the month of February.

LeBron James Equality Nike

Both James and teammate Kyrie Irving will have Black History Month (or “BHM”) colorways of their signature sneakers releasing on Thursday in advance of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

BHM_3_rectangle_1600

SP17_Equality_Adult_Kyrie_Pair_V1_CL_rectangle_1600

James’ LeBron 14 will feature a blend of black and white (harmony) with gold accents (aspiration), and will retail for $175. In similar ilk, the Kyrie 3 will have a black base with black and white marbling on the outsole and gold accents on the tongue and insole. It will retail for $120.

  • Steve

    I know who Nike is ultimately responsible to, but it sure would be nice if this was a “here’s how were going to help” and not a “so buy our shirts and shoes”.

  • The film is to raise awareness. The shirts and shoes are meant to do the same. In addition, the spot follows Nike’s recent announcement of its partnerships with MENTOR and PeacePlayers International, to drive change within communities wherein the company will donate $5 million in 2017 to numerous organizations that advance equality in communities across the U.S. This eems pretty significant to me.

  • Chris

    Also, the first ten seconds is just north of the Shoreway on W25th.

  • humboldt

    Multinational corporations certainly are not the answer to resolving complex domestic social issues, and we as individuals are not going to consume our way out of the problems we face. I love Lebron, but these ads are a shallow form of identity politics–generating almost no heat and certainly no light.

    In contrast, consider the principled stand against human rights abuses that Michael Bennett (and several other NFL players) made over the weekend in declining a state-sponsored trip to Israel. They aren’t hawking any consumer goods and are not aligning a social message with corporate product placement, but rather engaging in a form of thoughtful protest that will surely draw ire. Very impressed by those young men http://deadspin.com/michael-bennett-withdraws-from-group-of-nfl-players-tou-1792256020

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  • NankirPhelge

    Leader Building.

    “Nike’s unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.” Unless, of course, you’re a conservative. Then there’s no room for you here.

    That’s that’s the way I feel. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  • Harv

    Do you mean conservative views are not welcome within Nike’s general vision? Or do you mean that the ad’s implied message regarding the need for change that leads to more racial/gender inclusion is an essentially liberal view?

  • NankirPhelge

    I mean this sounds to me like more left-wing “Hollywood” holier-than-thou hypocritical b.s.

    You don’t need a weatherman . . .

  • humboldt

    Even on the left there is tension around whether the Democratic party should continue to focus on representational diversity (the sort of identity politics Hillary Clinton campaigned on) or material economic issues (essentially the Sanders platform). This commercial is trafficking heavily in the language of representational diversity, and, much like the Clinton campaign, simply invoking “equality”, “diversity”, and amorphous “victimhood” become largely meaningless bromides, especially when wealthy celebrities are delivering the message.

    In other words, I wouldn’t view this just as a conservative/liberal split – I think something more nuanced is happening in our political culture at the moment, and that this commercial (unintentionally) taps into it

  • NankirPhelge

    Okay, you have more insight into this than I do. I’m just reacting on a pretty superficial level.

    Look, I don’t want to get into a big argument with anyone about this. If people love this ad campaign, fine. I think it’s b.s., but that’s just me. I’m all for diversity and inclusion . . . for everyone.

  • Harv

    see, to me it sounds less effete “Hollywood” than Madison Avenue, pinky-to-the-wind. That was my take watching the nearly identically themed Super Bowl ads, one after the other.

  • NankirPhelge

    It strikes me as just another lecture from rich celebrities that we should strive to be as wonderful and superior as they all are because clearly we’re not there yet.

  • Harv

    got it. I think one’s perspective depends on what you think prompts an ad’s message. I don’t see LeBron and friends pushing their sponsor to promote a social agenda, notwithstanding that this is precisely the intended appearance. I see a multinational corporation positioning itself for sales, or the less direct goodwill that leads to sales. And if the company execs and talent believe in the ad’s message that’s merely a happy coincidence. But if Nike thought a litter of scampering puppies, a weather-beaten farmer or an aging rock group would do that job better, that’s what we’d be seeing.

  • NankirPhelge

    I agree that it’s primarily a marketing gimmick, but I see social finger-wagging as well. What makes this pitch more appropriate than puppies etc. is the Trump effect. The message I’m getting is that Trump is a racist, mysogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc. deplorable, and we’re against him and his ilk. So be like us.

  • Harv

    … which is what they think will briskly move their shoes right now. I believe we’re not disagreeing so I’ll stop.

  • NankirPhelge

    If Nike is truly concerned about fighting society’s ills, I know how it could make a real and significant impact. Bring to the U.S. those hundreds of thousands of factory jobs that are being performed at their hundreds of factories in Asia and elsewhere. And then pay the American workers a decent wage.

    This would be far more useful than giving LeBron $1 billion (with a B) for reciting platitudes. When communities have decent jobs, so many of society’s problems take care of themselves. Marriage and families are more stable, people have a sense of purpose and responsibility, crime goes down.

    If Nike did that, people would take notice. Hell, I’d even buy from them.

    Action > talk.

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