Through New Year's day, we are counting down the year's best brand ideas and campaigns.
No. 2: Nike was as usual a standout creative force in 2020, with spots ranging from its ad aimed at inspiring Middle Eastern female athletes, to its powerful homage to Kobe Bryant narrated by Kendrick Lamar. But the most impressive of all was this film underscoring the common thread between athletes around world—everyone for that matter, enduring the challenges of this year. The agency and production team expertly spliced together otherwise unrelated found scenes of different athletes to make it appear as if they were moving as one. It was directed by Oscar Hudson of Pulse Films, one of the hottest directors of 2020, as exemplified by his selection to direct this year's John Lewis Christmas ad.
Today marks the return of the NBA and to celebrate, Nike has rallied more than 50 athletes across two dozen sports in a visually inventive spot reminding viewers “You Can’t Stop Us.”
In the third spot of the campaign, soccer pro Megan Rapinoe delivers a rousing speech alongside a series of 36 split-screen scenes that splice together dynamic moves of pairs of athletes, as if they are performing as one. A tennis forehand becomes a baseball swing; swimmers and runners get on their marks, seemingly side by side; a skateboarder making a sharp turn becomes a surfer riding a wave.
The point? To underscore the common thread between athletes all over the world. “We’re never alone,” Rapinoe says. “And that is our strength.”
The piece highlights how resourceful and inventive post-production techniques can help create standout messages despite current pandemic restrictions on filmmaking. Creating the ad required sifting through 4,000 pieces of footage to find action scenes that could merge within a single frame. Wieden & Kennedy Portland was behind the film, with Oscar Hudson of Pulse Films directing, editing out of JOINT and VFX from A52.
Along with Rapinoe, other sports stars featured include Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, Eliud Kipchoge, Kylian Mbappé. Naomi Osaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Caster Semenya and Serena Williams.
In one fell swoop, the spot pulls in what seems like all of the sporting world while addressing the ills affecting the world today, from the pandemic to racial injustice.
At one point, we hear an announcer say, “The world’s sporting events are postponed or canceled,” as we see scenes of cleaning crew sanitizing stadium and arena seats. Another scene shows Colin Kaepernick and fellow 49ers taking a knee alongside University of Nevada basketball plates.
“We know things won’t always go our way,” Rapinoe continues. “But whatever it is, we’ll find a way. And when things aren’t fair, we’ll come together for change. And no matter how bad it gets, we will always come back stronger because nothing can stop what we can do together.”