Top 5 ads of the week: Nike and Colin Kaepernick, Adidas and Donald Glover

Levi’s steps up its support for gun control, John Lewis gets cute with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and maybe the best fake McDonald’s ad ever.

Top 5 ads of the week: Nike and Colin Kaepernick, Adidas and Donald Glover

There’s been plenty of ink spilled this week about Nike’s decision to resign Colin Kaepernick and make him one of the faces of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. I’ve written about how this strategy is both on the right side of history and business. I’ve written that the ensuing pop cultural moment this ad created has presented Nike with an opportunity to prove that it can actually stand for something while selling you shoes. I called it the most important ad of Nike’s history. Right here, right now though, let’s just marvel at the sheer quality of the ad itself. Kaepernick is undoubtedly a huge part of it, and one helluva reveal at the end. But the spot is also a classic of the form, one that Nike all but invented. Global superstars and hardscrabble nobodies, given equal billing on the stage of athletic achievement, inspiration, and motivation. Except this time, by making Kaepernick the central figure, the brand pushes its point far beyond sports. Onward!


Nike “Dream Crazy”

What: That new Nike ad.

Who: Nike, Wieden +Kennedy Portland

Why we care: Brands are not perfect, Nike being prime among them for a variety of reasons. But that doesn’t mean it’s incapable of creating something that distills a sentiment, a message, that perfectly sums up a moment and inspires. For millions of people, that’s exactly what this is.

Adidas Originals “Donald Glover”

What: Adidas announcing its new partnership with Donald Glover.

Who: Adidas Originals, Donald Glover


Why we care: In any other week, this would be the biggest brand move by far. Adidas expertly embedded itself in the second biggest pop cultural moment of the week — Donald Glover’s new video for the Childish Gambino track, “Feels Like Summer.” In less than six days, the music video has more than 23 million views on YouTube alone. Adidas found a way to sign on a hot new collaborator, then unveiled it in perhaps the coolest way possible.

John Lewis & Partners “Bohemian Rhapsody”

What: A new ad by the UK retailer to promote the company’s “partnership” business model, which includes sibling brand Waitrose, that gives employees a stake in the company.

Who: John Lewis & Partners, adam&eveDDB

Why we care: It may not have a penguin or a dog or a bear and a hare, but wee ones putting on a killer cover concert of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a damn good way to sell just about anything.

Levi’s “New Gun Control Support”

What: A declaration and commitment from the brand.


Who: Levi Strauss & Co.

Why we care: Again, in any other week, this might’ve been the biggest brand purpose move of the week. Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh decided to take a stand on one of America’s most divisive issues, committing to donate more than $1 million to The Safer Tomorrow Fund, as well as doubling its usual employee donation match to organizations aligned with its Safer Tomorrow Fund. He also announced a partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety to work within the business community to stem the epidemic of gun violence, and asked gun owners not to bring firearms into its stores, offices, or facilities. Not an ad per se, but a major statement that says more about the brand than any ad could.

Jevh Maravilla “Fake McDonald’s Ad”

What: A YouTuber made a fake McDonald’s poster featuring him and his friend, put it up in their local McD’s to make a point about the lack of Asian faces in the restaurant’s in-store ads, and it hung there for more than 51 days.

Who: Jevh Maravilla, McDonald’s

Why we care: The best possible kind of culture-jamming. And in positive corporate response news, the franchise owner Mariselle Quijano told CNN, “We take pride in highlighting diversity in every aspect of our restaurants. We applaud these students’ creativity and hope to see them in our restaurants again soon.” And McDonald’s corporate communications office said it supports the franchise’s response.


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.