[artinfo] Nike throws in the towel

by way of + <b2 at c3.hu> PROPAGANDA at 0100101110101101.ORG
Mon Jan 26 23:34:30 CET 2004

Nike throws in the towel
...and withdraws case against European art project

In December there was still uncertainty about the final outcome of the 
lawsuit filed by Nike International against Public Netbase for producing 
0100101110101101.ORG's art project "Nike Ground -- Rethinking space".
For several weeks, the fate of the renowned Vienna-based net culture 
platform hung in the balance, its continuing existence threatened by the 
court action. But we can now confirm that the sportswear company has 
yielded under the pressure of international public and media attention 
generated by the action.

"We won! -- declares satisfied 0100101110101101.ORG spokesman Franco 
Birkut, -- and our victory is proof of at least one thing: the famous 
"Swoosh" logo belongs to the people who actually wear it every day. These 
commercial giants think they can beat anyone who annoys them, and they're 
unable to distinguish an artistic or critical project from unfair 
competition or commercial fraud. Nike was not the target of our 
performance, they are just one amongst the many tools we use to make our 
point. We were not against them, but they reacted in such a hasty and 
unseemly way, with no style at all. In the end it was a pleasure to play 
with Nike: the bigger they are, the harder they fall!"

"It was worth the risk in order to insist on the right to free artistic 
expression in urban spaces -- Public Netbase director Konrad Becker 
declares -- The intimidation attempts of this company known for its sneaky 
marketing strategies have turned back against them". The worldwide interest 
generated by the project can also be explained by the fact that it 
emphasized the importance of a cutting-edge artistic practice that employs 
the real means of production of a society increasingly determined by the 
media and technology. Becker: "The project drew attention to important 
issues such as the globalized dominance of economic interests over cultural 
symbols and gave rise to controversial perspectives and contentious 

In mid September 2003, 0100101110101101.ORG started a surreal art project 
called Nike Ground ( http://www.nikeground.com ), a "hyper-real theatrical 
performance" built around a fake guerrilla marketing campaign: Nike was 
supposedly buying streets and squares in major world capitals, in order to 
rename them and insert giant monuments of their famous logo. A 13 tons 
hi-tech container was installed in Vienna, the first city to host a "Nike 
Square", as part of the action.

Nike wasted no time: "These actions have gone beyond a joke. This is not 
just a prank, it's a breach of our copyright and therefore Nike will take 
legal action against the instigators of this phoney campaign". On October 
14th, Nike released a 20 page injunction requesting the immediate removal 
of any reference to copyrighted material, and that any activity related to 
Nike cease immediately. Failure to comply with this request would mean that 
Nike would claim 78,000 Euros for damages.

"When they started legal action against us -- says Franco Birkut -- they 
knew perfectly well that we were not a competitor and that they were 
dealing with an art project, but they continued legal proceedings in order 
to crush us and erase any trace of the work. We didn't allow them to 
intimidate us, we ignored their ultimatum and went on with the performance 
till the end of October, because this was our initial idea".

The international press reacted badly to Nike's legal action: "Regardless 
of the outcome of the trial -- wrote Cathy Macherel in Le Courrier -- their 
action will have been success: hasn't operation Nike Ground shown the 
public the other side of the "Swoosh" corporation advertisement? Far from 
being a free symbol integrated in the public sphere, here Nike reveals 
itself as a humorless multinational that has lost all sense of play as soon 
as someone touches its interests".

The Commercial Court has rejected Nike's plea for a provisional injunction 
on formal grounds. After this refusal Nike didn't take further legal 
action. The match is over: Nike threw in the towel.

Nike Ground is the latest surreal action by the European art group known as 
0100101110101101.ORG, a band of media artists who use non conventional 
communication tactics to obtain the largest visibility with the minimal 
effort. Past works include staging a hoax involving a completely made-up 
artist, ripping off the Holy See and spreading a computer virus as a work 
of art.

Nikeground at 0100101110101101.ORG

Public Netbase
office at t0.or.at

More information about the Artinfo mailing list