Monday, August 15, 2011

Anything Doesn't Go

When is a flawless, gleaming, plate-glass shopwindow a broken window? Boston mayor Thomas Menino had no trouble answering the question after one look at the Nike sneaker shop’s display on his city’s upscale Newbury Street. There, above the company’s just do it slogan, were eight T-shirts bearing, in boldly graphic lettering, such messages as get high, f**k gravity, and dope, this one accompanied by an open pill bottle with skateboards spilling out. The mayor clearly understood George Kelling and James Q. Wilson’s theory that one broken window left unrepaired in an empty building suggests that nobody is watching and nobody cares, sparking more vandalism and disorder, which in turn emboldens the violent and lawless to commit hard-core crimes. Here, the mayor saw, was cultural vandalism: Nike’s fashion statement, so to speak, was that it is trendy to take drugs. And the company was happy to turn its teen and preteen customers into walking billboards for drug use.

Read the rest of Myron Magnet on
the importance of stigma.

1 comment:

Rob Firchau said...

Thanks for posting this, Mr. Wade. "Pushing the envelope" may be part of the advertising gig, but, as the article describes, it can go too far. Nike has been doing this since they began their "Just Do It" campaign in the mid-80s, when they used HIV-positive athletes in their ads. The signals are mixed and the targets aren't always able to understand the message (if there really is one). The only way to stop the machine is to stop feeding it, which is why I haven't purchased Nike gear since 1984.