Nike debuted its “EQUALITY” campaign with film, billboards, activations, merchandise and more, highlighting their commitment to diversity and inclusion and aiming to inspire people to make a change in their communities.
The film aired during the Oscars and during NBA All-Star Weekend, but in New Orleans, the essence of the campaign ran out of the heart of an art gallery and into the veins of the city.
Nike’s top athletes including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant and Gabby Douglas were featured in the advertisements that can be seen throughout the United States and Canada.
During NBA All-Star weekend, these photos were a part of an experience where fans, community members, athletes, entertainers and more were involved. The featured locations were a “House of Hoops” on New Orleans’ famous Canal Street and Studio BE.
Known for its larger-than-life size images of people of all different backgrounds exploring different aspects of race and social justice, it seems as though the collaboration with Nike and Brandan “B Mike” Odums’ studio was meant to BE. Not only was his warehouse large enough to fit the regulation sized court, sneaker displays, and any type of effervescent exhibit Nike had in mind to build, as they do each year, but it was also home to the work of one of the most creative, socially conscious artists in the country.
Nike gave Odums a seat at the table with their planning committee, including Team Epiphany. The partnership flowed like the Mississippi River, sharing the essence of the campaign from creation to implementation. Local and global guests saw Odums’ design influence the court, special paintings inside the warehouse made just for the activation, and on exclusive merchandise—all parallel to his original gallery which remained open for visitors to see.
In addition to partnering with Odums, Nike worked with local youth organizations to have several students participate in basketball and fitness clinics as well as “The Other Side of the Game,” workshops. After playing, students listened to interviews where host Kevin Carroll spoke with players including Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, on how students could succeed “off the court.”
“When people tell you, you can’t do something, you should try to do it,” Kevin Durant told a group of students. “I don’t hang around naysayers. I try to surround myself with great people, work extremely hard and see what happens.’
Surrounding the court and in the backdrop of the Black History Month sneaker display as well as barber and salon station, Odums was asked to created three original paintings of individuals who made a great impact on Louisiana athletics.
These luminaries included Harold Sylvester, the first African American to receive an athletic scholarship from Tulane University; Mike Ruffin, once considered the next basketball star from New Orleans, but used what he learned from on the court and applied it to a career in public service; and WNBA champion Seimone Augustus, who continues to make her community of Baton Rouge proud.
Additional local legends were highlighted through Midnight Basketball games and a pop-up barber shop featuring local barbers, where people received free styles throughout the weekend.
“A lot of the pieces have this conversation around professional athletics and when I was creating those pieces, I never thought that any professional athlete would come to see it,” Odums shared.
He originally made them and other pieces to spark conversations among the young people that come to visit the space on school tours each week. Nonetheless, he soon discovered it’s greater global impact.
“I’ve always wanted my art to be impactful and allow people to discuss and talk and invade and I feel like that’s what’s been happening.”
For more information about Nike’s EQUALITY campaign, visit news.nike.com/news/equality.