The influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, who identifies as a woman and uses the pronouns "she/they," posed for a series of photographs and videos promoting the brand's sports bras and leggings. However, Mulvaney has not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery.
Nike has previously collaborated with a transgender athlete for their advertising campaign. In 2021, they launched the 'Play New' campaign with Mara Gomez, who is a player in Argentina's professional football league.
The recent partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, however, has caused controversy and could potentially impact sales. Nike's sales have received a significant boost in recent months due to the endorsement of prominent athletes such as Lioness Chloe Kelly, who was seen wearing Nike products during her games. Kelly had famously celebrated her goal in England's World Cup victory by taking off her shirt, revealing her Nike sports bra with the iconic black tick logo, the UK's Daily Mail reports.
After several sports bodies moved to give biological women their own protected category in competitions, Olympic silver medalist Davies has criticized Nike's partnership with a transgender influencer to promote its female sports clothing range. Davies, who won silver for Team GB in the 400m individual medley at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, described the move as a "step" back.
"It's so frustrating. We take two steps forward with World Athletics and Swim England protecting women's sport and then Nike does this," she told a British TV program.
"The ad feels like a parody of what women are. In the past, it was always seen as an insult to say, 'run like a girl' and here we've got someone behaving in a way that's very un-sporty and very unathletic, and it's so frustrating when only 1 percent of USA sponsorship dollar goes to females in sport," she said. "That Nike would do this feels like a kick in the teeth."
She went on to suggest boycotting Nike's brand.
"We can protest. It's what is left for us at the moment. No one seems to be listening," she told the UK program. "The only way we can make these companies and governments sit up and listen is to boycott with our wallet. It's the only thing they listen to."
Davies contended that it was not appropriate for a biological male to endorse products, such as sports bras, that need to be designed and tailored for female bodies.
"Dylan is advertising sports bras when there's nothing to put in the sports bra - when actually it's really important women get proper support when they do sport. It just doesn't make sense," she said.
"For a long time, Nike sponsored Allyson Felix, one of the world's most incredible track athletes. Then, when Allyson got pregnant, they reduced her sponsorship by 70 per cent when she had something happen to her that happens only to women," she continued. "Women are being treated with total disdain at the moment, particularly in the world of sport where physiology makes so much difference."
Meanwhile, U.S. notables are shunning the beer brand Bud Light after it, too, partnered with Mulvaney.
John Rich and Travis Tritt, both country music stars, have joined a boycott against the Anheuser Busch label in ways that went viral.
“What beer should my bar [Redneck Riviera] in Nashville replace #BudLight with?” Rich tweeted on Wednesday, which led fans to flood the comments with suggestions.
— John Rich?? (@johnrich) April 5, 2023
“I will be deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider. I know many other artists who are doing the same,” Tritt shared on Twitter last week.
I will be deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider. I know many other artists who are doing the same.
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 5, 2023
The singer also cautioned fans against buying the Jack Daniels brand of whiskey and other beverages after an old ad campaign featuring drag queens was brought to light again on social media.
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) April 6, 2023