In the U.S., Nike has brought a quirky, friendly twist to its advertising in its recent "Unlimited" campaign, in which actor Oscar Isaac plays a narrator who's relentlessly befuddled by the marvelous feats of athletes from all walks of life -- the everyman, the pro, the quadruple amputee mountaineer, the transgender duathlete and the 86-year-old "Iron Nun." But in Asia, the brand has put its classic game face on with bold spots introducing powerhouses we may not have been aware of before. There were the bad ass women of India, the "overly ambitious" players of Japan and now, in China, we have "The Next Wave."
Along with Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai, the brand debuted this stirring film introducing the "Just Do It" campaign to the country. It begins with a simple scene of a boy practicing some fine soccer footwork throughout his school halls. But that's just the kick-off to what plays out as a continuous, single take capturing athletes of all kinds showing off their prowess throughout the streets of Shanghai -- tennis players, motocross riders, parkour athletes, runners, basketball players.
Featured are cameos from famous pros, including retired national hurdler Liu Xian, former national tennis player LiAn, marathon runner Mr Sun and Taiwanese singer Selina.
A voiceover throughout urges them not to "do it" for any reason -- whether it's for the glory, the fame or the attention. "Just do it," it says.
The ad targets a young generation unencumbered by their country's traditions, one more emboldened to be spontaneous and irreverent in pursuing their own paths.
"We named the film 'The Next Wave' because it's the perfect metaphor for the youthfulness, optimism and infectious energy of the new generation that's coming at you at a thousand miles an hour," said W&K Shanghai Creative Director Terence Leong in a statement.
"Growing up in China, I was surrounded by people who simply used the English words 'Just Do It' as a punchline without knowing what it really means," added Business Director Dino Xu. "In this campaign, the provocative voice-over lines help to define what it is, by saying what it isn't."
While the ad appears to be a single shot, it's actual a feat of production magic. "It took a lot of long shots with very complicated choreography to pull it off," explained Creative Director Shaun Sunholm in the statement. "That meant we had every day athletes playing side by side with famous athletes, balls flying everywhere, people crashing into each other, it was near chaos at times. But in the end we combined all of their energy into one infectious massive wave of sport."
The campaign will also feature out-of-home, short films, digital and on-the-ground activation.