“It’s Not About the Shoes” The Jordan Brand attempts to communicate to its audience that to become legendary they need to understand that it is not about the shoes, but what it is you do in them. They do this by showing a number of star athletes performing when they were in college and high school to the narrator’s (Michael Jordan) words. This paper hypothesizes how it is the Jordan Brand attempts to bring their audience to the shared rhetorical vision of becoming legendary, through fantasy themes in their ad “It’s Not About the Shoes”.
The Fantasy Theme Criticism To understand this paper’s argument on how it is the Jordan Brand attempts to use fantasy themes in their ad, we must first understand what exactly the Fantasy Theme Criticism is. It was created by Ernest G. Bormann, and was designed to provide insights into the shared worldview of a group of rhetors. It is derived from the Symbolic Convergence Theory, and can be applied to different types of rhetoric including the kind(s) used on small groups, social movements, political campaigns, and organizational communication.
The criticism relies on two assumptions. One, that rhetoric creates reality, and two, that convergence occurs. With regards to rhetoric creating reality we are to assume that the symbolic forms that are created from the rhetoric are not imitations but organs of reality. This is because it is through their agency that anything becomes real. We assume to that convergence occurs because symbols not only create reality for individuals but that individual’s meanings can combine to create a shared reality for participants.
The shared reality then provides a basis for the community of participants to discuss their common experiences and to achieve a mutual understanding. The consequence of this is that the individuals develop the same attitudes and emotions to the personae of the drama. Within this criticism the audience is seen as the most critical part because the sharing of the message is seen as being so significant. The basic unit of this analysis is looking at the different fantasy themes within the rhetoric being analyzed.
Fantasy themes tell a story that accounts for the groups experience and that is the reality of the participants. The three fantasy themes that are necessary to create a drama are setting, characters, and actions. These fantasy themes then come together to form a fantasy type, and rhetorical vision. A fantasy type is a stock rhetorical vision that appears repeatedly in the rhetoric of a group. The actual rhetorical vision is the unified putting together of the various shared fantasies, or a swirling together of fantasy themes to provide a credible interpretation of reality.
In the event there is a rhetorical vision, it is suggested that a rhetorical community forms that consists of participants in the vision, or members who have shared the fantasy themes. It is within this community that the ability to understand and act on the motives for action that the rhetorical vision attempts to communicate reside. Analysis Within this ad, there is a number of fantasy themes that the Jordan Brand incorporated that potentially could lead their audience to the desired rhetorical vision they wished to communicate.
This part of the paper will seek to analyze this ad by first looking at our ads relationship with the audience, and then breaking the fantasy themes down into the three different kinds that make up this analysis and how they could come together to form a fantasy type and rhetorical vision. In order for the ad to make sense it must share a First there is the setting theme(s). Setting themes depict where it is the action is taking place. In this ad, there are a variety of different athletic venues depicted in which the physical setting takes place for athletes to become legendary.
For example, there is a basketball court (P3, P8, P15, P20, P21), a boxing ring (P12-13), a baseball field (P5-6), and football field (P11, P17-18). All of these different physical places are where athletes go to train and perform to become legendary. We here the narrator state various inspirational lines pertaining to ones performance such as, “It’s about work before glory” (L10-11) and that it is about “Taking everything you have been given, and making something better” (L8-9). This suggests to the audience that practice and hard work in whatever sport
you choose to compete in, are required if you wish to become legendary. The next major setting theme of the ad is within the audience is itself. In the very first scene (P1) all we see initially is the shoes with an unidentified person sitting in them. The screen then scrolls up to reveal a man who it is sitting in a chair deep in thought. This is possibly meant to be symbolic that each and every person in the audience is that athlete in those shoes. Then in the final scene we see a black screen with the words Become Legendary.
These two slides form the setting that each member of the audience is supposed to face, the moment in their mind at which they either decide in favor of, or against attempting to become legendary. In addition to this the ad references “you” the audience a total of 8 times. This supports that the ad is trying to communicate to its audience wherever it is, and since this ad is attempting to call to action its audience the setting is within the audiences minds themselves when they are making their decision. Next there is the characters theme(s).
Character themes are any person or object shown engaging in human like action. As previously stated, the ad references “you” a total of 8 times and makes clear that the audience is the most important character in this ad. Through the imagery and words, the audience is supposed to either imagine themselves as the athletes depicted, or as themselves in similar settings on the athletic field. This inclusive strategy of using the language and themes of the ad to relate to the audience helps to build convergence The athletes who are shown in the ad are also important characters.
It is not explicitly stated in the ad who these athletes are, but by watching the ad and viewing the final scene in which the words Become Legendary (P22) appear, the audience can infer that whoever these athletes are, they are legends in their respective games. They are depicted throughout the ad performing various acts of athletic ability, and through the narrator’s words the audience is supposed to imagine themselves performing similar acts as these athletes. Finally, there is the actions theme(s). Action themes deal with the action of the drama.
Within this ad there are numerous action themes. By looking at the visuals of the ad we see athletes running up and down a basketball court (P3, P20), hitting baseballs (P5-6), shooting a basketball (P8), catching touchdowns (P11, P18), and hitting a punching bag (P13). Accompanying these visuals we here the narrator’s words and are able to understand the qualities these athletes possess, and how their actions (which become transparent through the ads visual and audio display) have lead them to become legendary.
For example, we here the narrator say for the baseball scene (P4-6) that “It’s about having the courage to fail” (L4-5). The audience is supposed to understand that having courage/acting courageous is important to have if one wishes to become legendary. Another example is in slides P12-15 in which we go from the visual of a young boxer working out, to the image of basketball player in celebration and here the words “It’s about work, before glory” (L10-11).
This scene depicts that the action of working hard leads to the act of celebration in victory. This scene also lends itself to the idea that the act of working hard is important to becoming legendary. These themes form a fantasy type which is that it is not about the shoes. We here this exact line stated in P1L1 that “It is not about the shoes”. Throughout the ad we then see various video clips and pictures that show us, as well as hear our narrator tell us, what it is about.
We then hear in L14 that once again “It’s not about the shoes” and then in L15-16 that “It’s about what you do in them, it’s about being who you were born to be”. This fantasy type provides the resolution to the original conflict brought about in the first scene. The fantasy themes discussed above all come together to hopefully lead the audience to the rhetorical vision to become legendary, which is what the rhetor hoped to communicate. Through the fantasy themes the audience is able to see how it is that they can become legendary