Nike’s Incredibly Stupid “Kobe Bryant Jumps Car” Commercial

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bad Decisions, Media, Sports, Video

I really don’t know what to say to this. It’s wrong for so many reasons, not the least of which is the suggestion that shoes can help you jump a car (WTF?).

Yes, Kobe says “do not try this at home,” but come on people…what does Nike take us for? Behind every piece of advertising is a message and this one is about the shoe’s performance.

They even released this thing on Kobe Bryant’s own website, which should give you an indication that they want people to think it’s real.

And who knows, it very well might be, but either way it’s dumb and dangerous and Nike should take it down immediately.

UPDATE:
The consensus in the comments section seems to be that I’m dumb for embedding the video, and I think it’s fair criticism because this does get more people to watch it. However, the reason I did this is to show people how this video is grossly irresponsible. And yes, there’s another way to handle this, but I’m not really a big fan of blogs that link to YouTube so I have to leave their site in order to watch something. To me, that’s why things are embeddable.

Getting back to the main point, yes, I’m outraged that Nike is taking a clearly dangerous trick and using it to sell shoes. Let’s remember that jumping cars is not a sport, so Nike is selling a dare here, not just performance.

Moreover, marketing should never be responsible for one broken nose, or busted jaw or fractured skull. Not one. And yet I’m sure we all know it’s going to happen as a result. So while they may not be legally responsible when bad things happen to people who emulate this ad, from a marketing ethics point-of-view they’re guilty as hell.

Call this post unwarranted outrage if you want, but I’m sticking by it and I think the reasoning is pretty straightforward.

UPDATE:
DigitalPodcast shares similar sentiments…

The problem will come when the first stupid person decides to try it themselves to show off. The first broken neck, paralyzed or dead kid will make Kobe and Nike look incredibly irresponsible. I would not be surprised if they get sued and it becomes a big mess.

While I don’t want to sound like the grumpy parent that I am, I can’t help but point out that this is stupid and irresponsible behavior and the perhaps the dark side of social media marketing. Kobe has a huge following despite his problems off the court. Kobe’s jersey is the number one most popular jersey in the US and even in China. Kids who don’t know any better and adults who are stupid enough to try to emulate their heroes are going to see if they can do this too.

While a pair of Nike’s costs $130 bucks, a kid’s life priceless. Nike and Kobe should start thinking now about how they get themselves out of that mess. It’s coming soon.

I’m telling you…this could get ugly quick.


This entry was posted on Friday, April 11th, 2008 and is filed under Bad Decisions, Media, Sports, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

19 Responses to “Nike’s Incredibly Stupid “Kobe Bryant Jumps Car” Commercial”

  1. TheMiddle Says:

    I’m sorry but its just stupid that this makes news here.

    1) They stole the shot from a movie. I can’t remember which one but I believe I remember Steven Segal being involved. Exit Wounds maybe? Either way, its not exactly new to pop culture and I’m sure it will be seen far more often in the movie than in Kobe’s YouTube.

    2) Joey Gathright, center fielder for the Kansas City Royals was way ahead of him when he did this a few years back.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=cySfw8f0beg

  2. Dos Says:

    Okay…they should take it down…the only problem…IT IS TOTALLY COOL AND AWESOME! It is AWE-COOL-SOME! And what is the problem.

    Some people are stupid and they will attempt to do this and get hit by a car. Why does Nike have a responsibility to censor their ads so that stupid people don’t hurt or kill themselves?

  3. Elyas Says:

    Are you trying to get a job as an Official Outrage Peddler (a la M. Malkin)? There’s nothing to be upset about here. And if there is, giving the ad free play on your site probably isn’t the best form of protest.

  4. Brandon Says:

    haha couldnt agree more with what Elyas said. You are an idiot

  5. Keith, orange county Says:

    Fake-awesome and interesting. Yeah! run it. Message for the shoes, is responsive, quick and bouncy. Irresponsible? yes!!! but very entertaining. Hope Kobe won’t prove himself to do this live in vegas… Maybe ask advise from Evel Knevel if it comes to the temptation. Lakers… sorry, dynasty is on the line. lol.

  6. tr Says:

    I’m really at a loss for words. This level of fear and concern is insane. What is there to be outraged about? It’s a commercial. I guess I just don’t understand your point of view.

  7. mw Says:

    First of all, it has to be a fake, because franchise players are prohibited by contract from dangerous off-court activities that could cause injury. If it was real and Kobe was injured, the Lakers would be off the hook for paying him a dime. Even Kobe is not that stupid to risk his contract with the Lakers.

    As far as kids trying to copy this, I am tempted to say “evolution in action”, but you are probably right, there will be some stupid enough to try it, and it is is irresponsible for Kobe/Nike not to disclose that it is a fake.

  8. Nelson Says:

    Is it just me, or did the car look like it drove behind him, not directly under him?

  9. Butch Says:

    First time I saw that stunt was on That’s Incredible in the early eighties. It was performed by a martial artist that jumped over a Ferrari, filmed from multiple angles, and brodcast splitscreen so there was no arguing about him faking it. The following season he was back, attempting to jump over two Ferraris running nose to tail. He mis-timed his leap and hit the lead car’s windshield, as I remember he was bounced high enough by the impact to clear the second car. He gave the “Don’t try this at home” speech to close out the segment from a hospital bed awaiting reconstructive surgery on a shattered knee.

    I don’t doubt Kobe has the athletic skills to pull the stunt off. He might get fined by the NBA or Lakers, but at worst that’d be a slap on the wrist to someone in his income bracket.

  10. kabster Says:

    Hey look at it as a thinning of the herd, if someone is stupid enough to try this then they deserve to be dead or in a coma.
    Why the hell shouldn’t people take responsibility for their own stupid actions.

  11. Thomas Says:

    I’m so relieved that all the comments here are from sane reasonable people. “Kids who don’t know any better and adults who are stupid enough to try to emulate their heroes are going to see if they can do this too.” Well like was said earlier, I think that might be some healthy natural selection. Its time we stop being so outraged all the time at everything.

    Its an add. Its not encouraging people to stand in traffic and jump over cars. He even expressly says DO NOT try this at home, multiple times! I assume the counter argument would be “What about the people who are too stupid to take that warning seriously, or who just see that as a challenge? What about them? What if they hurt themselves? Won’t Nike and Kobe be responsible for their injuries?” The answer is NO. Time for people to take some responsibility for themselves.

    If you try to jump over a speeding car, and you don’t make it, thats your own damn fault. Don’t blame anyone else…. even if you DID see it in a commercial.

  12. Justin Gardner Says:

    Listen, I’m not suggesting that people aren’t responsible for their own actions. Obviously they are. But you’re using that as a catchall to explain away ANY type of irresponsible marketing, and that’s just where we’re going to have a fundamental disagreement.

    The reason I think this crosses the line is it’s ADVERTISING. This isn’t just Kobe doing this on his own with friends, it’s designed to sell shoes. So my point is it’s extremely irresponsible and dishonest for a star of Bryant’s magnitude to do this and post it on his website as if it were just him goofing with some friends.

    I mean, honestly, if a 15 year old kid cracked his skull open because he saw Kobe do this, would that be his own “damn fault?” Would you say that to the kid’s parents?

  13. micky Says:

    I LOVED IT!!!! GREAT MARKETING!!!!
    THE SHOCK AND ARGUMENTS ARE CAUSING
    THE AD TO BE A SUCCESS!!!!
    GO BUY THE SHOES AND STOP HATING!!!
    SHOCK SELLS!!!!! LOOK CLOSELY AT THE VIDEO…
    IT IS TWO SEPARATE SHOTS MARRIED TOGETHER…
    THE CAMERA NEVER MOVES…. IT DOES LOOK LIKE HE REALLY
    DID JUMP THAT HIGH THOUGH…. JUST LIKE TIGER WOODS AND
    THE BOUNCING OF THE GOLF BALL… GREAT MARKETING!!!

  14. Thomas Says:

    Well then what about the slam dunk contest? What about jumping over another person to dunk the ball? or over a ball rack? If you don’t have ups, thats gonna end ugly. Should we ban that in case some 5’2″ kid decides he thinks he can pull it off?

    Also, in the last day I’ve seen several cars drive up and down sides of buildings, jumping from one to the next. Do you think a lot of people are gonna go out and buy these cars thinking they can do this? Is Ford in for a lot of lawsuits because people are driving their cars off buildings?

    Give people a little more credit for their capacity to use common-sense.

  15. Joey Says:

    There’s a bunch of videos of people actually trying this at http://www.break.com.

  16. Dos Says:

    I mean, honestly, if a 15 year old kid cracked his skull open because he saw Kobe do this, would that be his own “damn fault?” Would you say that to the kid’s parents?

    I “saw” Kobe do this and didn’t crack my skull. I saw him do it from the comfort and safety of my computer. So “seeing” Kobe do this is very safe.

    It is in the actual attempt to jump over a car that the danger lies. And for that, my explanation to the parents of the kid with a cracked skull would be: He didn’t jump high enough.

  17. jason Says:

    kids have been trying to jump over cars since mtv’s jackass. stop whining. look at it this way. if a stupid kid thinks it’s a good idea to jump a moving car and he dies, he won’t be able to make any more stupid kids. doing dumb shit on tv, and then having even dumber people try it, is really effective at cleaning out the gene pool

  18. Elisabetta Says:

    Haven’t seen the ad, but I am sure it’s cool.
    Are the same people who get in a tizzy over a “stunt,” understood by most not to be real, outraged at the movies/video games that train kids and people to do terrible things?
    Somehow, I doubt it.

  19. Justin Gardner Says:

    Elisabetta, the ad is embedded in this post. Can you not see it?

    As far as movies and video games go, there is a stark difference there because it’s entertainment. Expectations can be set appropriately for those experiences because the understanding is that they’re not real. We also pay to experience movies and games, so we choose it.

    The Nike thing, however, is paid media that uses the product benefit (it’ll make you jump higher) to promote an incredibly unsafe activity. In this sense, it’s much guiltier of “training” us to do something. Advertisers make ads because they want somebody to carry out an action and they pay to push it on us. Viral video has blurred the paid media line for some, but not for me.

    But go on believing that this is just silly, innocent fun. Because that’s exactly what Nike wants you to do.

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