When America's Economy Becomes Its Culture
Today, Nike is a 3.5 billion dollar company. Now, how in the world does a shoe company get that much money? Compared to other popular shoe companies like Payless ($2.8 billion worldwide) and Skechers ($1.4 billion worldwide), that's over a billion dollar difference. What's even weirder is that Nike, unlike Payless and Skechers, actually specializes in a certain type of shoe. How does a product that would normally only appeal to a section of its customers make more than shoe companies that are designed to appeal to everybody? If athletes were really the only people who buy Nike products, there wouldn't be enough to keep sales in the billions all over the world. But athletes aren't the only people who buy Nike's athletic shoes. Why is that?
Nike's corporate communication's vice president explains it simply, saying that "We are not a shoe company. We are a sports company." Only, she isn't talking about the actual sport itself. She's talking about the image of it. When selling their products, they are not just exporting equipment- they are exporting the ideology of fitness, victory, energy, vigor, wealth, and money. And those appeal to much more than athletes, and much more than just shoe buyers in general. You start buying the shoe because of the personality that it executes rather than because you are in need of footwear.
You see, when Nike exports "Air Jordans", they aren't exporting sneakers. They are exporting the actual Michael Jordan, and as you sit down on a couch doing absolutely nothing and watching him make 3 million bucks for playing and 36 million just for selling his name, you feel a sort of emotional tie to the shoe. This is why Nike can get away with selling shoes for hundreds of dollars more than they are worth. The shoe comes with a lot more than just cheaply made, comfortable footwear. This is why Nike can get away with "Nike Towns" that have been described as a mixture of Disney Land and MTV.
As Nike's monstrous success grows, infiltrating the minds of Americans and people from all over the globe, it seems they will stop at nothing to acquire more money. When Nike needed tough kids from ghetto neighborhoods to wear their shoes for a new image, but the kids couldn't afford them, Nike made itself look charitable by starting a volunteer program called P.L.A.Y. (Participation in the Lives of American Youth), where they would use the most minute fraction of their money to leverage a lot of customer effort for the urban kids. Meanwhile, those kids were stealing and murdering one another just to be able to wear a pair of Nike's expensive high tops.
Not surprisingly, Nike isn't the only company that sells much more than the product they advertise. Close behind are Reebok, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. You cannot advertise thirst, as water quenches thirst better than any sugary carbonated drink, but you can advertise the way it'll make you feel when you drink it, and how it'll make you a part of the society, as Pepsi's slogan, "The Choice of a New Generation" proves. To wrap this up, America's economy is becoming its culture. Unlike culture, economy can be exported, and America's economic culture is being spread all over the world. And while many places, such as Germany and England, seem to welcome it, many, such as Islam, are willing to terrorize America for it.
Just think about it the next time you buy a pair of shoes.