Notes from the Media Landscape: Nike makes lemonade out of nasty Imus lemon

Inspiration for a doozy of an ad arose out of the ashes of shock radio jock Don Imus' infamous career.

‘Thank you, ignorance . . . Thank you for unintentionally moving women’s sport forward.’ That’s a quote from a full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times last Sunday. It was bought by Nike and created by its longtime AOR – Wieden & Kennedy, of Portland, Oregon, which also did the media buys.

Without mentioning him by name, the Beaverton, Oregon-based sports apparel biggie based the one-time effort on the racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team that got Don Imus fired as host of his long-running radio show on CBS and simulcast on MSNBC.

While major advertisers including P&G were jumping ship, Nike’s team got busy transforming the obnoxious lemon into some inspirational lemonade, which it placed not only in the Times, but also on banner ads on,,,, and – with a viral feature to help visitors send the ad to others.

Indirectly thanking Imus for bringing sexism and racism to the forefront, the ad credits ‘ignorance’ for starting an overdue conversation, ‘for reminding us to think before we speak . . . for showing us how strong and poised 18- and 20-year-old women can be . . . and for reminding us that another basketball tournament goes on in March.’ Serendipitously or not, Rutgers’ sports teams’ uniforms sport the Nike swoosh.

The full ad can be viewed at