Opening old wounds: Did Nike’s Londoner ad cause more interracial conflict than harmony?

Nike’s Londoner advert raises larger questions about diversity due to criticisms that it wasn’t “diverse” enough

Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ advert had an unlimited number of appearances from the likes of Big Shaq, Little Simz, Skepta, Giggs and J Hus including more of London’s most sought after faces.

To many, it was heartwarming to see some of their favourite celebrities in the most nostalgic and patriotic way.

On the surface, it celebrated the multicultural nature of Britain, the aspiring middle class and the community feel of Britain’s public schools. As a result, it established a connection that ran deep in the heart of its viewers but, in no time also became the topic of scrutiny.
Whilst this three-minute clip intended to cover the range of cultures residing in boroughs such as Peckham, Dalston and Brixton, Asian people felt a lack of representation claiming that it failed to highlight their presence in these regions. @AzTheBaz sparked the debate by tweeting the question, “Nike are happy for Pakistanis to stitch their footballs & for factories in Bangladesh to make their clothes. But we aren’t marketable enough to be in this commercial?”.

Just how substantiated are these claims and what are the wider arguments that arise out of this discussion? Was the overall message missed?

Beyond the scope of representation in sports, this conversation is one that forces us to consider Asian representation in society. Some members of the black community argued that black culture “dominates” in various areas of the entertainment industry and any criticism towards the campaign stems from a sense of anti-blackness.

Nike’s campaign has certainly challenged the status quo by creating discussions on wider issues such as labels, stereotypes, prejudice and hierarchies within ethnic minorities themselves. Is there hierarchy within ethnic minorities? Can we really associate the racial struggles of one race to another? Is this sense of utopia that we are trying to achieve actually attainable?

It is these conversations that also encourage us to change our lexicon, to move away from labels, like the word “black” that when analyzed does have negative connotations. There is certainly an ongoing fight for equal representation in the media. However, what can we do to mend the fractured relationship between minorities? Society appears to be more integrated than ever before, yet with arguments like this it appears that we are going backwards than forwards.

Is living in a hypersensitive age a good thing?