The new Nike ad has only been out for a couple of weeks and it is already receiving widespread support.
I’ve come across positive feedback by men and women alike, in sectors as disparate as advertising and nuclear science.
So it feels like a privilege to review it.
The Big Idea
On the surface, it is an ad that celebrates strong women: the ones who dare to dream, the ones brave enough not to care about how crazy they look.
There are echoes of those women in all of us.
I can find parallels with my own life. I look back at the crazy 22-year old Italian girl that I was, not speaking a word of English, and yet, wanting to be a creative in a London advertising agency. I drove myself to distraction and worked silly hours because that was my dream, and nobody was going to take it away from me. As I languished in between jobs, my own friends suggested I’d have more luck opening a sandwich shop. A headhunter told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.
Even now, decades later, how many creative directors in the UK are female? 5%? How many foreign ones out of that?
There is a grunting tennis player, a Serena Williams, lurking in all of us, as we fight against impossible odds to become who we are supposed to be. Having experienced the mild side of crazy as a foreign, white woman in male-dominated industries, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for women with different skin colours, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or with disabilities.
The crazy gets crazier still, the mountains to climb get higher, the grunting louder.
What They Did
The ad is very cleverly written, as it appears to be about women, turning the ‘crazy woman’ stereotype on its head.
I, for one, am relieved that it is becoming acceptable for a woman to stand up for herself, after growing up surrounded by male entitlement.
And yet, the ad’s narrative does not alienate anyone, as it appeals to a wider range of people who all have one thing in common: they push boundaries. No matter how impossible or crazy their dreams might be, they break conventions, limitations and stereotypes to achieve them.
This ad is a real, inspirational, battle cry for the outsider, the underdog, the fighter in all of us.
In sport as in life, we are all capable of getting what we strive for.
There is no better, or more empowering feeling than that.