Many women may very well dislike exercise and feel the need to motivate themselves with mind games or bets. But do they really want a brand reminding them of that?
“Women are not natural athletes—but they can improve themselves! And women who are natural athletes are insufferable—but they can improve themselves, too!” That appears to be the message at the core of Nike’s newly expanded #BetterForIt campaign.
Nike’s says its new Front Row by NikeWomen site is the “destination for fitspiration, sweatproof style and the latest episodes of Margot vs Lily.” Users can also sign up for The Fix, “a weekly newsletter serving up Better For It highlights.” The campaign builds off the “Better For It” message Nike launched last year (above).
Margot vs Lily is an eight-episode original series about “a fitness-obsessed YouTube celeb and her exercise-allergic sister who make a bet on New Year’s Eve.” The branded miniseries is the brainchild of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and Jesse Andrews, the director and writer of the indie darling 2015 movie Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. The meta-hip style of that film is evident in the Margot vs Lily trailer.
Nike Women’s VP of Global Brand Marketing told AdAge that the campaign aims for relatability and the film series is “a format that clearly women around the world today value.” She added that Nike, as a brand, is “proud to showcase” this “vulnerability and uncertainty.”
If Nike has proven anything, it certainly knows its demographics better than most brands—so it’s hard to question a major message from the brand that gave us “Just Do It.” But did Nike intend for “Better For It” to feel a bit like “It Gets Better,” the anti-bullying viral campaign that swept the nation a few years ago? And while its understandable that Nike wants to related to women who struggle to motivate themselves to work out, why be punitive toward those who are motivated by characterizing them as friendless?
Furthermore, does Nike’s “Better For It” message acknowledge that its chief competitor now owns the more aggressive message for women.It certainly feels a bit that way when viewing “Better For It” side by side with competitor Under Armour’s recent “I Will What I Want” campaign.
Both messages include acknowledgement of hardships and forces aligned against the female audience. But where Under Armour says those forces are external, Nike is saying those forces come from the woman herself. Under Armour says “Blame it.” Nike says “Blame yourself.”
Oddly enough, Nike’s message to women in its international campaign is much different. For example, in Russia, Nike’s “Better” message is all about lifting yourself above what society expects of trophy wives and “retail therapy.”