In its ad celebrating the US women’s national soccer team victory in the 2019 World Cup, Nike supported the team’s fight for pay equity.
Called “Never Stop Winning,” the black-and-white spot features photos of the team and its fans, accompanied by the sounds of cheering crowds and pounding drums. A woman’s voice leads the crowd in various chants of “I believe.” The narrator says she believes USWNT will be the best soccer team in the world and that “a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play” — and say they want to be like team star Megan Rapinoe.
The ad centers on the concept that the USWNT’s win is about more than just winning a soccer title. It’s considered a significant step in the battle to achieve pay equity and end gender discrimination in sports.
Those issues have been at the forefront for the team, which announced on International Women’s Day this year that it was filing a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation over alleged “institutional gender discrimination.”
The March 8 action, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, ramped up the team’s longtime dispute with its federation over pay equity and working conditions, stating that “female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts.”
The lawsuit is still in progress. But Nike’s ad appears to be sanguine about the team’s success in this realm: “Women will conquer more than just the soccer field by breaking every single glass ceiling,” the narrator says in the ad. One of the spot’s most striking images is of a young girl standing in a stadium, holding a sign that reads “Equal Rights.”
The ad ends with a shot of the USWNT holding up the World Cup trophy, and concluding words flash across the screen: “This team wins. Everyone wins.”
The US national team’s World Cup journey has been lucrative for Nike, which sells the team’s jerseys.
Nike CEO Mark Parker announced in the company’s earnings call last week that the USWNT’s home jersey is also now Nike’s highest-selling soccer jersey — men’s or women’s — for a single season in company history.
Made from 100% recycled polyester fabric, half of which is sourced from plastic bottles, sales of the kit have even surpassed leading European club sides such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Nike has an endorsement deal with Alex Morgan, one of the team’s most recognizable players.
Yet Nike itself has been criticized for reducing athletes’ pay during their pregnancies – a practice it said in May it would discontinue. The company has also made several management changes after many women employees complained about sexual harassment and marginalization in the workplace.