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Nike celebrates all the “crazy” female athletes in new Oscars ad

Serena Williams narrates the latest installment of the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Nike celebrates all the “crazy” female athletes in new Oscars ad
Professional tennis player Serena Williams speaks on stage during Pennsylvania Conference for Women 2018 at Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 12, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage/Getty Images]

Nike will launch its newest ad in the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign during the Oscars, and the brand is taking the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments, drive, and determination of female athletes.

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Narrated by Serena Williams, the 90-second ad features gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chloe Kim, members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, track athlete Caster Semenya, NBA coach Becky Hammon, and many more.

The sentiment seamlessly blends elements from the brand’s “Until We All Win” ad from this time last year and its viral hit from late last year featuring Colin Kaepernick. It points to commonly held cliches and the athletes that break those stereotypes every day.

For some, it may seem a bit rich coming from a company mired in its own gender discrimination issues over the last year. In April, a handful of executives resigned over allegations of misconduct, discrimination, and bias, and CEO Mark Parker acknowledged and vowed to work to change the culture. Then in August, former Nike employees sued the company, alleging in a lawsuit that the company spent years hiring women at lower salaries than male counterparts, discriminated against women during performance reviews, and promoted female employees less frequently than men doing the same work.

Created by long-time Nike ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, the spot was directed by Kim Gehrig, who’s known for stylish and substantive ads like Gillette’s recent lightning-rod spot, and award-winning ones such as Sport England’s “This Girl Can” and Libresse’s “Viva La Vulva.”

It’s also a masterclass in the Nike ad copywriting formula. Establish the obstacle, present the solution, use imagery and music to crank up the hype.

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? 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.

But a woman running a marathon was crazy.

A woman boxing was crazy.

A woman dunking? Crazy.

Coaching a NBA team: Crazy.

A woman competing in a hijab, changing her sport, landing a double cork 1080, or winning 23 Grand Slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more? Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, and crazy.

So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.

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About the author

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

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