... it's a cultural revolution...
The Nike Pro Hijab is a true cultural innovation. I thought it breaks the cultural conflict which has prevented Muslim women from engaging in sports. Muslim women have faced many barriers to sports and exercise, such as hijab bans, large-scale poverty and religious intolerance.
I think the Pro Hijab is therefore a fantastic cultural innovation. It will help more Muslim women embrace sport. Muslim women have much lower rates of sports participation in some countries because of the lack of sport appropriate clothing. Nike is always demonstrating its inclusivity. For example, it recently introduced a plus size for women in the US. Muslim athletes have needed a better hijab option for sports for years.
After all, sports is important not only from the standpoint of physical exercise which has obvious health benefits. Women who exercise regularly or play sports also tend to have a better body image, regardless of their actual shape or size. Besides, sports is a great equaliser that doesn't discriminate between race, religion and gender.
Amna Al Haddad a weightlifter from the UAE who was earlier in a Nike ad titled 'Inner Strength' says "As Muslim women, we have been vocal in the media about it (personally since 2011) .The big guys can't help but notice us - 'the underdogs', and our impact in the sports industry and world. They know that we are here to stay and decided to join the party and create another 'competitive' sport hijab in the market, which by the way, has existed in the market for few years now."
From a marketing point of view, the timing was perfect to introduce the Pro Hijab on International Women's Day. Trust Nike to match the innovation with a global event.
Also, Nike perfectly timed their new TVC in the Middle East, released two weeks ago which encourages women to participate in sports.
It's a beautifully made commercial titled 'What will they say about you?'. An ad that tries to break down the cultural barriers that have prevented Muslim women from participating in sports.
Stephane Missier, Planning Director at Weiden+Kennedy Amsterdam, Nike's ad agency, told AdWeek earlier, 'Nike has in the past, tackled the insecurities women face when it comes to doing sport, but in our markets, we discovered different insecurities - in the form of societal expectations, gender discrimination and community pressures. The barriers we found became the foundation for the work, in each case flipping stereotypes and preconceptions."
According to a Nike statement, the product has been in development for a year, but it's in line with the company's founding mission "to serve athletes, but with the signature addendum: If you have a body, you're an athlete."
What's wonderful is that Nike is making sure that no sports person is being discriminated against or disadvantaged; from their earlier campaign featuring a transgender duathlete, Chris Mosier and the 86 year old 'Iron Nun' to its more recent International Women's Day ads featuring sportswomen from Russia Turkey and Middle East.
Well done Nike! Please keep doing it!
(The author is chief mentor, HGS Interactive)