Ads and Cultural Imagery

Nike Force of Nature Feature Image
Nike ad with Purity
Nike ad with Purity

Today I saw the ad above which is part of an ad campaign that includes the ad in the header. As you can see by comparing these images, the photographer had many permutations of clothing available for the athlete, Purity Kirui, to wear. But I think each of these images reaches into the viewer’s mind differently. The header image is a standard athletic image. Purity seems to be enjoying her incredible athleticism and the implied advantage of doing so in Nike gear. It’s been shot in such a way as to make it seem as though she’s almost literally flying through the air or jumping as if she had Flubber on the bottom of her shoes. It’s a good ad and a great photo. (Note: I have cropped image horizontally – original photo here for as long as Nike keeps it up) On the other hand, let’s look at the image I saw at the mall today. At first glance it seems a less dynamic and less powerful image. Yet it kept my attention for longer than the header image. Why is that? Because the photographer is reaching into the zeitgeist – super heroes. The way her shirt is pulling behind her is evoking the current super hero trend. Even though the other image has her in the air, this one seems as though she’s running to go save someone. By tapping into this feeling, she seems even more powerful and as though she’s running even faster. It’s almost implied that Nike’s the shoe of power and integrity and even, subconsciously, that it’s the only shoe that can withstand the speed. This is the power of imagery and it’s one of the reasons we are more censorious with images than we are with words.

Author: Eric Mesa

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