‘Dream Crazier’: Nike’s ad campaign redefines the title ‘crazy’ given to female athletes

Brand Nike is leveraging a powerful social message as its marketing strategy through Serena Williams in its latest ad film released at the 2019 Oscars

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Feb 28, 2019 9:24 AM

Nike made a strategic move by releasing its ad campaign at the 2019 Oscars by reaching out to the TV cable audience. Their ad campaign, ‘Dream Crazier’, created by the advertising agency, Wieden+Kennnedy Portland with Creative Directors, Alberto Ponte and Ryan O’ Rourke showcases prominent female athletes and celebrates their achievements. With this ad campaign ‘Dream Crazier’, Nike sent across an empowering and inspiring message to the audience.

The narration of the ad campaign is voiced by tennis star, Serena Williams. The voiceover changes the label “crazy” which is often applied to women athletes in a negative way to show these critics what “crazy” can accomplish. “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us.  And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy”, stated Williams in the ad campaign. The commercial ends with the tagline- “Show them what crazy can do. It’s only crazy until you do it. Nike, Just Do It”.

The 90 seconds commercial portrayed remarkable women athletes, highlighting the challenges they face and how they have broken all barriers achieving voluminous achievements. The commercial along with Williams featured sports personalities like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chole Kim, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and the members of the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team.

Ad campaigns have the power to showcase a powerful social message to its consumers. This deviates from the functional approach of the brand and inculcates a more socially driven approach. The audience today is keen to know what brand values a brand stands for apart from the services the product provides. That is the reason why brands today are showcasing conversations on social issues in their ad campaigns.

Speaking on this Gayatri Sriram, Digital Creative Head-Delhi, FCB Ulka stated, “With the Colin Kaepernick commercial, Nike proved that they can indeed sell shoes through progressive social commentary. And with this, we see them completely leaning into that strategy. It’s interesting that in demonstrating the sexism and double standards of the sports world, they chose to not show the most infamous argument between Serena and the chair umpire. They wanted to tell the world that sports history is full of these examples. It’s a stirring piece of work, and who better to narrate it, than Serena Williams?”

Brands need to take into consideration the audience and what they stand for. Most millennials and Gen Z consumers view brands as a platform to bring about societal change just like any other form of media by taking a stand on social and political issues. "We borrow from and often reflect on current sentiments of our audience. In advertising, we create social messages as a part of that dialogue. When it’s done subtly with brands it hits home. With a subject like women empowerment, the messaging is positive and inspiring, which makes the end consumer feel somehow united with the rest of the female population in the world,” Garima Khandelwal, Chief Creative Officer, Mullen Lintas.

Nike understands this socialistic approach and is using this marketing strategy for the brand to sell its sports and workout gear. Consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand that stands for women's rights and is breaking down stereotypes. The brand has always been on the forefront in spreading the message of gender equality to their consumers through their ad campaigns. Previously, the Nike brand took a stand on Serena Williams and capitalised on the controversy over the French Open banning the catsuit she wore to an event in 2018.

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