Best of 2021: Nike imagines shoes grown on trees and other sports miracles

'Best Day Ever' ad looks to a future in which the WNBA surpasses the NBA, and the sports world respects athletes' mental health

Published On
Jul 12, 2021

Editor's Pick

Through New Year's, we will be counting down our picks for 2021's 30 best ads and creative marketing ideas.

At No. 24: Nike puts the spotlight on trying, rather than winning, to combat quarantine-induced lethargy and depression.

Back in May, Nike debuted the “Play New” campaign, which put the spotlight on trying, rather than winning, and featured famous athletes not doing so well in sports out of their comfort zones. The brand is back with the latest ad in the push, “Best Day Ever,” which imagines an idyllic future in which seemingly impossible feats have become reality.

See the full list of 2021's Best Ads.

The spot opens by juxtaposing scenes of everyday people taking first steps to become active with unbelievable sports milestones. A young woman rises from bed to go for her first-ever run as Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sprints the 100-metre dash in under ten seconds. The voiceover ramps up with excitement as we see more incredible firsts: a shoe grows from a tree, the WNBA surpasses the NBA in popularity, Dutch wheelchair tennis legend Diede de Groot debuts her own video game. The announcer then calms as she describes a quieter scene—an empty press room. “Also, tomorrow, we will all finally respect athletes’ mental health,” she says, in what appears to be a nod to tennis champ Naomi Osaka’s decision to skip news conferences at the French Open for mental health reasons, leading to her decision to quit the tournament.  (Nike was one of the brands that stepped up to support her.)

The excitement then picks up with more accomplishments, including a scene of Sha’Carri Richardson (the would-be Olympics hopeful who was banned from competition after she tested positive for THC, drawing backlash against anti-doping agency rules) and a barrage of new records from LeBron James, Sky Brown, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and more. “Can’t wait to see what’s next,” the announcer declares. The film was created out of Wieden + Kennedy and directed by Rick Famuyiwa of Superprime (“The Mandalorian,” “The Chi”).

The campaign will continue with more ads focusing on individual stories featured in the anthem film as well as social pushes that encourage viewers to explore sport and imagine their “best day ever.”

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