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Nike: A to the CG

So I’m tooling around the interwebs the other day looking for tasty nuggets to feature in this week’s outdoor history and I come across this little callout in the April 1995 SNEWS.

It’s a short bit of praise for a new set of Nike ACG ads. Now, people digging a Nike ad in the 1990s isn’t such a rare thing, however, in the Outdoor space, it was definitely a sign of change. To be fair, their review of the TV spot (how quaint, right?) was pretty much a backhanded compliment, but the fact it was there at all is what I found interesting.

Here’s the Spot. Overall, a pretty classic Nike tone and feel. 

From the brand’s first entry into the outdoor space with Nike Hiking in the 1980s, their presence was always looked at with side-eyed skepticism by the industry. Some early product missteps certainly didn’t help. However, I think it had as much to do with Nike’s brash image, reliance on mainstream media, and a product aesthetic that was far more forward than the brown/green/navy brigade that dominated buyer’s sensibilities (still dominate?). They just didn’t seem authentic, even though their products were created by enthusiasts, they sought core people to test and try them, and they consistently pushed forward product innovation- especially in the light hiker category, fusion of run, and of course, contemporary style.

Now, a much deeper dive into ACG is certainly warranted, and one day we’ll do that. There’s a lot to unpack, and many different sides and feelings about Nike in the outdoors. But for now, you’re just going to have to settle for a few ads from the mid-nineties. It’s hard to really appreciate just how different they felt within the pages of Backpacker, Bike, Canoe & Kayak, Climbing, or any of the other vertical mags that have since succumbed to the Borg that is Outside. So I’ve included a few others for context.

If it isn’t clear by now, you should know better: Resistance is futile


The Life And Times Of Outdoor History, by Rock Fight Contributor David Karstad is made possible by the fine folks at the Utah State University Outdoor Recreation Archive.


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