So, the Nike Dream Crazy ad has caused a lot of talk around the world, including in our corner of Bristol.
What of it?
I guess that’s the first point – it’s much discussed. One of the greatest indicators of success is getting your work talked about, the much-vaunted water cooler moment. That seems to have happened. Of course, a lot of the chatter has been within the industry, a nice to have of course, but not as critical as having your target audience or the community at large talking about it. And they have.
And what were they talking about?
Ultimately they were talking about a political as much as a social statement the brand was making. This is unusual. Brands don’t tend to ally themselves to an overtly political argument for all the reasons you can imagine. Referencing or championing social causes or trends is far more common and also central to this piece of work. But due to the political furore caused by Kaepernick’s ‘bending the knee’ Nike were clearly taking a stance too. While it was reported that some Councils and Mayors were banning Nike products, the brand was banking on being on the right side of history. No doubt they were prepared for the immediate (and possibly sustained) backlash from some quarters, for the longer-term benefit.
Critically, it did more than start a conversation. It prompted that other golden egg – action. For some, that was burning their Nike gear and posting the act on social media. But a corresponding drop in share price was short-lived with some media reporting a $6bn jump in stock value and the Guardian reporting a 31% uplift in sales by the end of the first week of the campaign. So, far from being just another brand purpose film to add to the list of (sometimes) desperate efforts to ‘mean something’, it sold stuff. And that’s what we do, isn’t it?
So, what do the crew at Prophecy have to say about it?
“This feels very much like an advert of two parts. The ‘Sacrifice Everything’ message is an interesting one. They chose a current, very polarising topic and took a side to provoke a media response. To me, it shows a lack of confidence in what is now a secondary part of the campaign, the motivational aspect. This ‘Dream Crazy’ message is a good one and the tagline ‘Ask if they’re crazy enough’ resonates.”
Lorna Flint, Data Developer
“I love it. It has purpose, without feeling mawkish. Nike has always been about breaking boundaries, getting you to question your beliefs and prejudices, and their ads make you think. I love that it’s about sport, but also about struggle and the power of belief, focus and determination – even if you’re not an elite athlete, you can relate to that. It’s also a fabulous piece of cinema – I watched it a week or two ago and it hasn’t yet left me.”
Heidi Stephens, Planning Director
“It feels like very familiar territory to me in its execution and its theme of overcoming adversity to become the best – or aiming for it. It looks like an exercise in inclusivity because they had to do one, perhaps. I think I’ve seen better and more focussed/engaging examples of this kind of thing, like AXA’s The Dancer.”
Neil Ward, Senior Designer
“URRRGH! This really gets my goat. The fact that people in ‘murica’ are up in arms about a guy kneeling for the national anthem MORE than the nature of his protest against people being killed every day due to the systemic racism in their country. I do find it interesting move for Nike to get so overtly involved in what’s turning into a political opinion though. Good on them to stand out and promote something they believe in.”
Ruth Limb, Senior Account Manager
“In an era of social unrest, Nike is asking us to choose a side. Seemingly less concerned about losing existing consumers and more focused on who their future customers are going to be, Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ inspires us to ‘believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything’. But what’s the impact of such a huge brand taking this somewhat controversial political stance? Whilst Nike’s market value has risen to $60 billion since the advert was released, it’s yet to be seen if getting political for the sake of sales is short-sighted or not. Personally, I’m inspired to add to my already somewhat-extensive trainer collection… but it doesn’t take much.”
Georgia Green, Copywriter
And what do I think?
As for me, I think it’s a very smart piece of work. It is a beautifully executed idea. The copy is brilliantly crafted and the pacing is peerless. There’s nothing in the creative execution per se that marks it out as we’ve seen many of the visual tropes before. But it’s the idea that resonates so powerfully. Nike have built on their tradition of using outsiders to reinforce their cool status as well as personal achievement. Think Cantona and Rooney from the past. This goes deeper and its effect could well go on impacting a generation of customers.