Product (RED) was launched in 2006 as an initiative to activate the corporate sector in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. In 2009, Nike joined Product (RED)’s list of corporate partners with its “Lace Up, Save Lives” campaign. Nike (RED) directs 100% of its profits toward HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and grassroots soccer programs in Africa. This case study questions the symbolism projected by Nike (RED) and its implications by applying Jean Baudrillard’s theories on consumption and hyperreality. The manner in which Nike (RED) represents Africa, HIV/AIDS, soccer, and sport for development and peace are all discussed as mediated simulations that position Nike as the producer of knowledge. Data analysis observes that Nike (RED) laces produce a hyperreality, whereby the origin of truth becomes, according to Baudrillard, indecipherable and soccer becomes more important than HIV/AIDS.
Szto is an independent scholar living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.