On Creativity through New Year’s, we’ll be revisiting some of the brand ideas and campaigns that made 2019—and the last decade. Check back on AdAge.com in the new year for the full lists.
Best of the Decade
Nike had heaps of memorable moments in the last decade. Among those were the “Find Your Greatness” Olympics ambush campaign from the 2012 Olympics. There was also the blockbuster “Write the Future” World Cup campaign which imagined the glorious futures of soccer pros should they go on to claim the top prize. But the work that made the most impact on the brand—and the marketing world in general—was “Dream Crazy,” Nike’s 30th anniversary update of its seminal “Just Do It” campaign. The centerpiece was the now famous tweet and inspirational spot featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick that relayed the message “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
In referencing Kaepernick’s polarizing decision to kneel during the national anthem at NFL games to protest police brutality against minorities, Nike placed itself in the center of a cultural storm. As a result, revenue increased 10 percent and proved that in this new era of marketing, brands can win by taking a stand. The spot went on to earn multiple Grand Prix in 2019 at the Cannes Lions as well as the Outstanding Commercial Emmy.
Nike is not backing off its polarizing Colin Kaepernick campaign. The company is amping it up with a new call-to-action spot that will air during the NFL opener Thursday night on NBC. The sportswear giant today released a two-minute-long video "Dream Crazy" narrated by Kaepernick as part of its controversial effort. In addition to running during this week's Thursday Night Football telecast, it will appear during coverage of the U.S. Open, Major League Baseball games and college football games, according to a Nike spokesman.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback encourages consumers to dream as he showcases recognizable athletes such as LeBron James and Serena Williams alongside others including Megan Blunk, a wheelchair basketball player, and Isaiah Bird, a wrestler who does not have legs. "What non-believers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult—it's a compliment," Kaepernick says in the spot. He closes with the mantra that first appeared in his marketing for Nike on Monday: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
The new ad, created by Wieden & Kennedy, is part of the latest refresh of Nike's 30-year-old "Just Do It" campaign, centered on the line, "It's only crazy till you do it." Kaepernick's inclusion in the push has received backlash from some consumers, who equate it with the sportswear giant's support of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Some experts have said the decision could help bolster Nike with younger consumers such as millennials and Gen Z who are eager to buy a brand that stands for something.
Kaepernick tweeted the new ad today to his nearly 2 million followers.