The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 22, Issue 1/4, 2006

Jean M. Grow
Pages 167-196

Stories of Community
The First Ten Years of Nike Women’s Advertising

This semiotic analysis of early Nike women’s advertising explores the evolution of the women’s brand from its launch in 1990 through 2000, and includes twenty-seven print campaigns. The semiotic analysis is enhanced by in-depth interviews of the creative team. The study is framed by a single research question. What symbolically ties these ten years of advertising into a cohesive whole and how? ultimately, three distinct mediated communities emerge. The story behind these communities, expressed semiotically and orally, suggests that the power of this advertising lies in its mediated construction of community life. The resonance of these ads is rooted in the creatives’ ability to construct signifiers that reflect the cultural and social experiences of women, with storytelling as the single most binding force across this ten-year period.