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Nike's 'We Run Bucktown' Sign Upsets Some Local Residents

By Alisa Hauser | August 19, 2013 12:00pm | Updated on August 19, 2013 12:34pm
 Nike Running Bucktown is coming to 1640 N. Damen Ave. on a stretch of Damen that both Wicker Park and Bucktown claim.
Nike Running Bucktown
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BUCKTOWN — An ad by Nike declaring "We Run Bucktown," which angered some neighborhood residents who considered it a sign of arrogance by the global shoe giant, has been removed.

Erin Patterson, a Nike spokeswoman, said the ad was removed and replaced with a new ad within just a few days because the barricade it was on was "reconfigured to make an entrance."

But the sign, to announce a new store opening at 1640 N. Damen Ave., set off complaints on social media by some who are bristling over the increase in the number of chain stores and restaurants opening in Bucktown and Wicker Park.

Julie Horowitz Jackson, a local shopkeeper, tweeted: "ICYMI No, #Nike, you will never "run" #Bucktown. Thanks. Please choose your words more carefully next time."

Folks on a Wicker Park-centric Facebook page unloaded on the advertisement and Nike's entry into the neighborhood.

"I'm not crazy about Nike coming to Damen Ave. The local, independent retail scene seems to be diminishing. It was a destination shopping scene because of the unique shops," wrote one resident.

"I'm glad I'm not the only one who found that a little tacky," another resident wrote of the campaign. 

Another wrote, "Don't tell me that Nike 'runs ' Bucktown. I realize it's a double entendre, but I think it's not a great message for those of us that have been here because we believed in the vibe," said another.

Jackson, owner of Virtu, a shop on Damen Avenue about four blocks north of Nike's new storefront, noticed the "We Run Bucktown" advertisement on Aug. 9 and shared a photo of it on her Instagram and Twitter feeds.

About five days later, Horowitz documented the "We Run Bucktown" ad being removed and replaced with a new ad featuring an Olympic athlete that reads, "Nike Running Bucktown."

Nike's new running store plans to open in October on the northwest corner of Damen Avenue and Concord Place. The "We Run Bucktown" advertising wrap covered the width of the storefront facing Damen Avenue.

A Nike spokeswoman told DNAinfo Chicago Monday that the ad "was not intended to be a double meaning and it is literally about the sport of running."

"All concept stores are always called by their location and advertising lets consumers notice it's a Nike Running store," the spokeswoman said.

Nike started opening running concept stores in May 2010. The first one in Palo Alto, Calif. is called  "Nike Running Stanford," referring to its location near the university campus, while "Nike Running FlatIron" is based in New York City's FlatIron District.

"'We Run' is a global running campaign intended to inspire runners and celebrate what they do every day — run," Patterson said.

Susan Cole, a Logan Square resident and teacher, said she believes "Nike knew what they were doing" with the ad.

Cole recalled when Starbucks moved into the area about 10 years ago,

"I was living in Wicker Park at the time and had left for two years to teach abroad and when I came back was shocked and surprised a Starbucks was here," she said.

Regarding the Nike ad, Cole described it as "good advertising" and added that she's "not offended by it."

Walking near the storefront Sunday, Mike Brown, 38, a Bucktown resident, said, "Bottom line, it's the neighborhood that will decide how successful a new business is and whether or not it will stay."