These Powerful Nike Ads Challenge Female Stereotypes in Russia, Turkey and the Middle East

Three Local Campaigns Are Rolling Out on International Women's Day

Published On
Mar 07, 2017

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Nike Women has created three films for different markets that will roll out globally on International Women's Day tomorrow, each challenging gender stereotypes in a style tailored to that particular region. The films, all by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, are part of campaigns that launched locally last month in the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, but which Nike believes will resonate globally and encourage young girls to get more active.

The Russian ad, seen here, begins with a little girl getting up on stage in a pretty dress to sing a traditional well-known Russian song about what girls are "made of." The song's verses describe little girls as made of "flowers," "gossip" and "marmalade." However, in this film there's a twist, as some of Russia's well-known female athletes appear and inspire the girl to start singing about girls being made of "iron" and "punches and bruises" -- to the consternation of the smartly-dressed audience. It ends with the little girl preparing to kick a soccer ball into a goal. The spot was directed by Riff Raff's David Wilson.

The Middle East region ad centers around the question "What will they say about you?" and shows women out exercising, some in traditional Arab dress, defying stares of disapproval. The film highlights professional and everyday athletes from the Arab region, including Parkour trainer Amal Mourad; figure skater Zahra Lari; pop singer Balquees Fathi; fencer Inès Boubakri and boxer Arifa Bseiso. Fleur Fortuné at Division was the director.

The Turkish film is set to Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" and also challenges gender stereotypes. Shot on a series of transitioning sets, and it sees women breaking out of traditional poses to become athletes, and contrasts stereotypes such as "our hands are delicate and fragile" with footage, for example, of a female athlete lifting weights. The film, directed by Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor via Academy, features prominent female figures from Turkey's emerging sport and fitness scene.

The three campaigns were produced simultaneously under one key global objective -- encouraging women to leap over life's obstacles and get active, regardless of societal, physical or cultural barriers. "In some parts of the world, what's daunting about sport for women is how they look in their exercise pants. In the regions we worked in, what was more daunting, was societal expectations, gender discrimination, community pressure and the weight of traditions. Those are the barriers we tried to help break down, in order to clear the way for women to play sport," said Craig Williams and Al Merry, W&K Amsterdam Creative Directors, in a statement.