Iconic Ads: Nike – Dream Crazy

Nike’s Dream Crazy has athletes leveraging the power of sport to move the world forward and at times sacrificing opportunities

“Just Do It” had been a rallying cry for sportspersons of all sports and abilities for more than three decades. The company sought to not only reenergize its trademark attitude for the anniversary of the line but to also expose the idea to a new generation of consumers. A new generation of young athletes was encouraged to fulfil their potential via sport – urging them to push their limits and conquer any obstacles in their path.

Wieden and Kennedy’s Dylan Lee, Alex Romans, and Sara Phillips were involved in the creation of this ad campaign. The three were not a team which did work together regularly. They’d previously worked in pairs, but this was the first time they were doing so – three of them together. A little unusual, but not out of the ordinary. They however had prior experience of having worked on the brand in other projects
People’s attention needed to be drawn to the campaign’s message, which needed to stand out and resonate. In addition, they were concerned with disseminating the correct message. For this reason, they turned to athletes, professional and amateur, who had pushed their sport—and, occasionally, the world—to its limits.

One sportsperson who epitomised this mindset was NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who notably chose not to stand for the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice, – regardless of the consequences.

It was a time when racial tensions had reached uncomfortable levels. And they wanted to illustrate that no matter who you are or how insane your ambitions may seem at the time, you can do everything you put your mind to, even if others think you’re crazy.

Pro athletes like Kaepernick show that they are prepared to give up their livelihoods to support their causes. As far as crazy dreams go, he’s got it beat.

Filmed by Lance Acord and featuring Colin Kaepernick as the voiceover, “Dream Crazy” explores how athletes, both professional and amateur, have overcome odds to make their wildest ambitions true.

In addition to great sportspersons like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and Eliud Kipchoge, there are also equally great ‘not so famous’ sportspersons like Megan Blunk, a 29-year-old wheelchair basketball player who won gold in Rio in 2016; Isaiah Bird, a 10-year-old wrestling prodigy who was born without legs, and Charlie Jabaley, an Ironman who dropped 120 pounds, went vegan, and in the process, reversed the growth of a brain tumour; and Michigander Alicia Woollcott, who simultaneously played linebacker and was named homecoming queen in her high school.

Football star Alphonso Davies of Canada, Surfer Kai Lenny of Hawaii, Skateboarders Lacey Baker and Nyjah Huston of the United States, Champion boxer Zeina Nassar of Germany, and the U.S. Women’s National Football Team were just some of the other sportspersons who also made appearances.

There has been an ongoing national debate regarding whether or not it is proper to bring politics to NFL games because of Kaepernick’s choice to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem, which put his career in jeopardy.

The campaign caught on. Kaepernick mentioned over 4M times between September 3-and 7 (compared to just over 4M mentions in the previous 8 months). Even though it caused some controversy, with some even resorting to shoe-burning, the work received an overwhelming amount of favourable feedback. In addition to boosting Nike sales by 31%, the “Dream Crazy” slogan raised attention to social injustice and sparked debates about how to make society a better place to live. There were two tweets from President Trump expressing disgust towards the campaign which only added more interest. Thousands of Instagram followers flocked to Nike’s account after the ad was released in September 2018.

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