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<nettime> Nike throws in the towel
PROPAGANDA on Sun, 25 Jan 2004 22:54:56 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Nike throws in the towel

January 25th, 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 interpretations".

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

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