Nike buys streets and squares

Posted by Eva_and_Franco_Mattes | Thu Oct 9th 2003 9:53 p.m.

10 October, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nike buys streets and squares
Guerrilla marketing or collective hallucination?

Picture this: a hi-tech container right in the middle of Karlsplatz, one
of Vienna's historic squares. It's the Nike Infobox: a slick,
demountable, walk-in container, two semi-transparent floors, dynamic
shapes and a red plastic cover. On the outer windows a curious sign
attracts the attention of passersby: "This square will soon be called
Nikeplatz. Come inside to find out more". Over the last month, the plan
to change the square's name has also been advertised on a website:
http://www.nikeground.com, while thousands of brochures were distributed
all over the city.

Inside the Infobox a charming couple of Nike-dressed twins welcomes
curious citizens, and explains to them the revolutionary Nike Ground
campaign: "Nike is introducing its legendary brand into squares,
streets, parks and boulevards: Nikesquare, Nikestreet, Piazzanike,
Plazanike or Nikestrasse will appear in major world capitals over the
coming years!".

A 3D project displayed in the Infobox gives information about a giant
sculpture to be placed in the Karlsplatsz ? or Nikesplatz ? from next
year. It is a giant sculpture of Nike's famous logo, a "Swoosh", a 36
meter long by 18 meter high monument supposedly made from "special steel
covered with a revolutionary red resin made from recycled sneaker
soles".

Not surprisingly, many Viennese are puzzled and concerned at seeing a
historic square sold by the City to a multinational without prior
consultation. Thus, immediately after the container is assembled and
open to the public, handwritten letters and emails begin to jam the
inboxes of local and national Austrian newspapers. After a short
inquiry, the press uncover that both Nike and the City of Vienna deny
any responsibility for Nike Ground. While Nike issues a press release
alleging trademark infringement, the City reassures the public by saying
that "following World War II street names cannot be modified, unless
they look very similar to others".

This almost unbelievable trick is the work of the organization known as
0100101110101101.ORG, and this time it is played on a whole city. Eva
Mattes, their spokeswoman, explains: "For this work, we wanted to use
the entire city as a stage for a huge urban performance, a sort of
theatre show for an unaware audience/cast. We wanted to produce a
collective hallucination capable of altering people's perception of the
city in this total, immersive way". Thus 0100101110101101.ORG continues
its history of works meant to be told instead of being seen; works which
pose the problem of an art which is mythopoetic.

The whole performance has been realized in cooperation with Public
Netbase, the Vienna netculture institution. Konrad Becker, director of
Public Netbase, explains: "It is our duty to directly intervene into
urban and media space, to bring up the issues of symbolic domination in
public space by private interests. We see Nike Ground as a statement for
the artistic freedom to manipulate the symbols of everyday life".

Naturally, not all of the reactions were so enthusiastic. Amongst the
letters published in newspapers, one Viennese commented: "It is a
scandal that while in the US Nike had to pay 1.5 million dollars for
misleading the consumer with false advertising, in Vienna we decide to
build a monument to a corporation which is still making a large use of
sweatshops". Another one added: "The Viennese schnitzel might not be as
fancy but it is surely tastier than their meaningless plastic swoosh".

To assuage people's anger, or simply inform citizens of Nike Ground
activities around the world, an infoline has even been set up:
0664-1235555, where a female voice kindly accepts all questions and
criticism.

The authors of this surreal performance promise that the Infobox will
stay in place for another month. Now that the fake has been revealed,
many people wonder whether Nike will try to put an end to the
performance. "Why should they? - asks Mattes surprised - we produced the
first Nike no-budget advertisement!".

Nike Ground is the latest surreal action by the organization known as
0100101110101101.ORG, a band of media artists who use non conventional
communication tactics to obtain the largest visibility with the minimal
effort. Past works include staging a hoax involving a completely made-up
artist, ripping off the Holy See and spreading a computer virus as a
work of art.

NIKEGROUND:
http://www.nikeground.com
info@nikeground.com

CONTACTS:
HTTP://0100101110101101.ORG
Nikeground@0100101110101101.ORG
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