The Competition Nike vs. Reebok
The ways products can be marketed are as varied as the stars in the sky. Since the beginning of modern athletic shoe production, both Nike and Reebok have been butting heads. Nike and Reebok have similar shoe designs and ideas, so what sets them apart from each other? With the use of rhetorical techniques Reebok hopes to close the reputation gap on Nike and move to the forefront of athletic shoe sales.
Nike and Reebok have very similar target audiences. Both companies strive to sell their athletic shoes to the general public and athletes alike. Anyone interested in running, biking, playing baseball, etc. can expect to find themselves enveloped in a Nike or Reebok marketing campaign. The target age group is anyone who is capable of exercising so there is no defined beginning nor end. Reebok began the modern shoe making era many years ago.
Reebok, founded in 1895, has many years on its rival Nike. Founded by Joseph Foster while developing a specialty spiked running shoe, the company has grown to be one of the leading producers of athletic shoes. Reebok has set itself apart from the competition by developing many new products including the new helmet impact sensor. This sensor developed for football lets the individual know when he has “received a serious hit to the head providing an objective measure of impact force,” (Reebok Launches). Although Reebok has made advances in other departments besides their shoes, development of the shoes are still overshadowed by parent company Adidas. Reebok offers many rhetorical perspectives from its website by providing visual information through the use of imagery.
The Reebok website is very vibrant with color and is laid out with many different pictures showing varying styles of shoes. At the top there are tabs for selecting styles of shoes based on gender while further down the page there are clickable images that direct you to specific models. There are no menu bars located on the sides of the website which creates more of a streamline appearance. Many components of the Reebok website provide compelling rhetorical points as well. A rotating image can be seen near the top of the page with many different people involved in various sports and recreational activities. This is using Logos because it is displaying a great deal of informational reasoning. If there are this many people using Reebok products then they must be of superior quality and worth giving a try. Another argument displayed through pictures on the home page is Argument Through Strength. On one of the pictures near the middle of the page there is a woman who is running up a rugged terrain in her running shoes. I can infer from this that if the shoes work to run up the bumpy, dirty, uneven surface then they should work perfectly fine the easy way on the sidewalk and other common locations. Reebok’s rival Nike also shows how a company can come out of the wood work.
Founded in 1964, Nike has been the top competitor in the shoe market for many years. However, Nike wasn’t always the multi-million dollar corporation with everything on its side. Back in the early 1970’s Nike was just a small company with big dreams, and in “1972 they made their break through with the waffle sole shoe design,” (You Are). The waffle sole design is still apparent in many of their shoes today, over 40 years later. This is a testament to the quality and popularity of some of the Nike designs. With its now established front-running reputation, Nike continues on its journey by providing some of the most convincing marking using rhetorical techniques to date.
Even though the Nike website is simple in structure with only a few images located at the top of the page, and drop-down menus located further down, one entering the Nike website is battered with rhetorical information using visuals and context. “Just Do It” their tagline immediately draws your attention. This is an example of Pathos because it was able to change my mood to be more positive by providing direct motivational speaking. As I continued scanning the website I noticed two professional athletes sported out in Nike apparel seemingly enjoying victory and satisfaction. This uses Ethos by presenting the apparel with seemingly trustworthy individuals; if they can trust it then I can trust it innuendo. The final display of rhetoric I took in from the website was another example of Ethos. Located just below the main image there are several options for shoppers and the “shop women’s” tab is located prior to the “shop men’s” tab. This shows that Nike is dedicated to providing equal opportunities for both men and women to shop its products and displays the Ethos through the use of fairness by not holding men to a higher standard than women. With products so similar, both Nike and Reebok have to rely on head to head competition.
Both companies try to get their product on top various ways, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. With tight competition a company cannot afford to have products that don’t set themselves apart from the competitors. This is the case with many of Reebok’s shoes which closely resemble their Nike counterparts with the use of the waffle sole design. This lack of design uniqueness in itself hurts the brand because there is nothing to gain by selecting them over the Nike brand. According to Sports Magazine Weekly, Nike outsold Reebok by a margin of 21.7%. This similarity could be one of the contributing factors that are limiting their sales and reputation. Although Nike strives for an immaculate reputation sometimes unexpected problems arise. According to The New York Times article the Nike brand took a huge hit to their reputation when cyclist Lance Armstrong was found to have taken steroids. This affected the public opinion towards the company because they sponsored someone who took illegal drugs and kids look up to the athletes who represent companies. Although this event took a huge reputation hit on Nike, they continue to look to the gold standard in their marketing. With the reputation battles heating up both companies have made representable arguments.
Both Nike and Reebok make compelling arguments on their websites and in their other marketing campaigns. Although Nike has the past developmental experience and know-how, Reebok is slowly catching up in the public opinion department with their new inventions. In the cyberspace department I believe that Reebok did a better job marketing their product with rhetorical qualities. Even though they did not have any professional athletes representing their products they did have the common person which could produce the most compelling argument, as the general population has come to know athletes are paid to use specific products. This changed my opinion, or mood, the most because it related more closely with me and my social position by not placing an athlete on a pedestal. Another aspect where I found that Reebok outdid Nike was the Argument through Strength. Reebok actually displayed their shoes being used whereas Nike did not. Although Nike made good use of their “Just Do It” slogan right off the bat, it was not enough to change my opinion after viewing the Reebok website.
Reebok and Nike both use numerous rhetorical techniques to increase their reputation and attempt to move to the head of athletic shoe sales. However, Reebok showed through its website and current advancements that it is not far behind the Nike brand and that it has surpassed Nike in online marketing in my opinion. It just goes to show that products can be marketed in as many ways as there are stars in the sky.
Belson, Ken, and Mary Pilon. “Armstrong Is Dropped by Nike and Steps Down as Foundation Chairman.” The New York Times [New York, NY] 18 Oct. 2012, Final ed., sec. B: 17. Print.
Randall, Lane. “You Are What You Wear.” Editorial. Forbes 14 Oct. 1996: 42-46. University of Iowa Libraries. EBSCO. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
“Reebok Launches Activity Impact Indicator.” SBRnet. University of Iowa Libraries, 25 July 2013. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.
“Report Finds New Commitment To More Brands…” Sports Executive Weekly (25 Apr. 2011): n.pag.SBRnet. Web. 9 Sept