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Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Nike-Track & Field

Creative Directors: Susan Hoffman, Stacy Wall, Dan Wieden

Art Director: Darryl McDonald

Copywriter: James LeMaitre

Photography: Marc Gouby, Duncan Sim

Creatives at Wieden & Kennedy were given one of those mixed blessing assignments. Magazine back covers already were purchased, the Olympics were at hand and Nike needed ads right away.

Copywriter Jim LeMaitre didn't panic. He realized he had an opportunity to capitalize on one of the best aspects of a magazine: it has a back cover as well as a front cover, and usually there's a 50-50 chance that one or the other will be seen on a coffee table or magazine rack.

With Nike's stable of top-notch athletes, he decided these ads would not discuss air cushions or waffle soles, but would take a peek into athletes' heads. Mr. LeMaitre wanted to see what motivates them and what they viewed as the obstacles they face in an event. However, he didn't want to turn this analysis into "brain surgery," he says. "It would be athletes plain and simple."

The result is striking executions of athletes doing their events in surrealistic settings, such as Dan O'Brien preparing to pole vault an arch-shaped butte, with the athlete's name and event in simple type-just enough to compete with the magazine's flip side.

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