It’s the hype I can’t stand

15 02 2012

It seem that Brazil have a new shirt.

In the style of the times, it comes with an overblown description;

“Nike Football’s new Brasil uniform for 2012-2013, which is celebrates Jeitinho Brasileiro (“The Brasilian Way”) — the spirit that encompasses the resilience, creativity and relentlessly positive and innovative approach that has helped make the Brasil National Team the most successful in the history of football.

The Brasilian home jersey, affectionately known as Amarelinha (“Little Yellow One”), has become a revered national symbol that represents both the hopes of the Brasilian people and their vibrant and diverse culture.

In line with Nike’s commitment to superior athletic performance and lower environmental impact, the fabric of the new shorts is made with 100% recycled polyester, while the fabric of the jerseys is made with at least 96% recycled polyester.  Kits are made using an average of 13 recycled plastic bottles.

The new kit marks a return to tradition with a classic, authentic design that recognizes the country’s glorious football history. The shirt boasts a clean yellow body and a classic V-neck collar with a thin green trim. The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti.

Printed on the inside of the back of the neck is a graphic by Brasilian artist Don Torelly. The graphic depicts an outline of the Brasilian federation’s crest containing the Southern Cross, a constellation of stars that was seen over Rio de Janeiro when the Brasilian republic was founded in 1889.

The design of the bold green numbers on the shirts is inspired by the numbers on Brasil’s national bank notes.

The new home shorts are a traditional blue color with a thick white stripe along the side. The new home socks, now with improved cushioning for greater comfort, movement and protection, are white with a green band at the top. A band of diamonds wraps around the center, echoing the tattoos of indigenous warriors.

The new kits are Nike Football’s lightest ever — up to 23 percent lighter than the previous versions. Nike Dri-FIT technology is incorporated throughout the  kits, which helps regulate players’ temperatures on pitch by removing sweat from the body to keep them dry and cool. Laser-cut ventilation on the shirts delivers localized cooling where athletes need it most.

Thanks to a new double-knit structure and yarns, the kits are 20 percent stronger than previous versions, without compromising on fit and feel. A small amount of natural cotton has been added for comfort.”

In olden days the sole purpose of your shirt was to differentiate opponents from each other. This simple idea is now not good enough they have to include a needless load of bollocks with it;

“…….up to 23 percent lighter than the previous versions ……………. Laser-cut ventilation on the shirts delivers localized cooling ………….. the kits are 20 percent stronger than previous versions”

When Brazil are on the next windswept European leg of their Nike world tour I wonder how much benefit the Brazilian players will gain from a shirt that’s 23 percent lighter. This is innovation is innovation for innovation’s sake. The marketing tossers seem to have forgotten that manufacturers generally stopped making cotton football shirts in the 1970s. Football shirts have been almost gossamer thin, therefore unable to compromise athletic performance, for several years now. Mind you adding  a superfluous scientific sheen is typical behaviour for a sportswear company trying to prove they’re one step ahead so it didn’t really get my goat, the following load of shite really goat my goat;

“The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti.”

This sentence is yet more proof that Nike thinks that Nike is a pretty cool company.  Nike may be many things – a heartless multinational, a historic user of sweatshops (to be fair to the American multinational most multinational sportswear companies have acted like them), a ruthless pursuer of reflected glory that entails placing undue pressure on sports performers (Brazilian footballers and Chinese athletes) to act is certain ways – but Nike is not cool, and they never have been.

Nike have a different perception of Nike than we may have. Nike don’t see Nike as a mere manufacturer of sportswear, they see themselves as  a manufacturer of lifestyle…….“ Just Do It” and things will happen……… “Livestrong” and you’ll achieve your goals ………  buy our trainers and you will become a feminist icon. Their belief in their own sense of specialness runs through everything they do:

“In November of 1990, Portland became the first home to a new retail-as-theatre experience called Niketown.”

As with other sportswear companies Nike’s marketing is quite obviously a load of shite at the most basic level. Nike’s goods won’t be able to do much for you if you are born without skill, speed or even balance, and that’s even if you buy the same boots that Cristiano wears. You won’t break down any social barriers just because you’re wearing their footwear either.

These basic facts don’t stop Nike thinking they’re special; not only will their products transform you, Nike are “innovating for a better world” and will “make the world a better place” . You could argue that if they really cared about making the world a better place they would pay their workers at a reasonable rate or give everyone in the developing world a free pair of trainers.  Their claims have the hollow clang of marketing bullshit because Nike are just about making money, if they can bend towards the ideas of the time to achieve this so be it. This is not cool, concepts such as “Retail-as-theatre” are not remotely cool

Nike seem to think by co-opting an edgy street styles they are by definition cool, but as I’ve already said Nike are not cool. The trouble with companies trying to claim coolness is the methods they use to claim coolness; the cynical manipulation of ideas in order to make money.

I remember watching a documentary about Puma and their contract to supply Jamaica’s athletics federation. The doc showed how a group of well-off westerners descended on Kingston to try find the soul of Jamaica in order to distil it,  and then inject it in to their sportswear. You can’t imagine how cringe worthy these marketing twats were; self-conscious pompous hipsters trying to prove that they were “down wid ma breddren”.

One point I remember in particular was the point when one of these marketing fuckers claimed  that Puma could be an integral part of Jamaican culture despite the fact that Puma had sod all to with Jamaica before they provided sportswear to the Jamaican athletics federation. Puma are still trying to claim that Jamaica and Puma have the same values;

“When we decided to work with Jamaica some years ago, we took the decision to do so because Jamaica speaks the brand’s essence in terms of the mix of sports and lifestyle,” the head marketing fucker noted.

“Jamaica is very successful on the track, but also an attractive country, and there is the culture and the music, and this is a perfect match for Puma.”

How Music and culture fits perfectly with a company that makes clothes for people to sweat in is beyond me but this doesn’t matter to the marketing industry because they are twats. This industry believes that everything they see, write, or create is so utterly fantastic they manage to discover new universal truths;

“Further, the company began endorsing more controversial and unique athletes, such as……….. the Jamaican Olympic team, known as a laid-back, “cool” group of athletes. They produced clothing for these teams that were stylish, yet comfortable, and very provocative.”

In the real world Puma’s desire to become part of Jamaican culture resulted in “provocative” sportswear that featured varying amounts of the yellow, green and black. To put this another way, Puma spent lots of money, time and effort to design something for a national athletics team in the colours of its national flag.  I could have saved Puma a fortune by telling that national athletics teams generally wore kit featuring the colours of national flags. Nike are trying to do similar with the Brazil shirt. Here’s their bullshit again.

“The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti”

They seem to think that by co-opting a street style they are becoming a part of Brazilian culture and safeguard their edgy style. Like Puma it’s a cynical use of popular culture, it’s the sort of act that hollows out popular culture and makes it meaningless.

Nike are not cool simply because they say they are cool, or try to act cool. Nike will never be cool. They may  think they’re outsiders but  it is an outsider status constrained by marketing definitions of what “alternative” means. In reality this alternative image is just another method of trying to make money. Besides anyone that thinks they’re cool is deeply, deeply uncool and a multinational company is definitely uncool.

Nike will simply never be cool as they have never been an integral part of a spontaneous sub-culture. While Adidas are just as bad as Nike in some ways, being a multi-national and all, they also produced footwear that was integral to the casuals movement (for want of a better phrase), and this made Adidas rather cool.

The crucial difference between this example and the tactics of Puma and Nike is that people made the choice about Adidas; Adidas did not make the choice about people. You could even say that the casual movement happened by accident;  In the late 1970s / early 1980s Adidas happened to make trainers in a certain style. At the same time certain football fans decided that they wanted to wear a new style of dress to matches. When the two things came together the casual movement was born. The casual movement wasn’t created by Adidas to show that they were outsiders and “cool”, the movement was created by people who used sportswear in a way that hadn’t been anticipated. People make stuff cool, companies do not.

The people marketing football are killing peoples’ enthusiasm for the sport, they’re taking football further and further away from the simple joy that football can provide. A joy that’s shown by the video I found on the When Saturday Comes site last week.



2 responses

30 05 2013
A scarf for your soul?, Part 7* | Llandudno Jet Set

[…] don’t think we should be too harsh on Puma however as bullshit production is rampant in the sports manufacturing industry.  Mind you bullshit production is vital if you want to get on with visionaries. It certainly […]

19 02 2012
Those crazy cats down at Puma!!!!!! « Llandudno Jet Set

[…] being confrontational line to society’s mores and values by producing clothing that’s “stylish, yet comfortable, and very provocative” . They tell us that their brand’s essence is a “mix of sports and lifestyle”. […]

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