Nike’s ‘Dream Crazier’ ad ‘just did it’​ and burned relationships with those sitting on the fence

Nike Women's latest ad burns relationships with those sitting on the fence and makes advocates of the individuals who align with the brand's values, argues BusinessDEPOT's Pia Rees-Rogers.

Monday morning while I was eating my breakfast before work, I settled in for my morning routine of checking out the latest on Instagram. Except on this day, something stopped my mindless scrolling in its tracks. Zeina Nassar, muslim pro-boxer was wearing a Nike Pro Hijab on a Nike Women Instagram post. This broke up my feed of Instagram Influencers and all the fakery I usually just keep scrolling past. On the Nike Women story they had also released a new advertising campaign featuring Serena Williams titled ‘Dream Crazier’.

It got me thinking, Nike has never really connected with their female audience in this way before. In the same way that Gillette has never spoken out about toxic masculinity before the ‘The Best a Man can get’ ad earlier this year.

After decades of having a half-assed attitude towards a significant portion of their audience, Nike has finally switched their stance on their female audience, and is finally speaking to the gender bias that exists within sport.

Nike has previously been guilty of applying the old make it pink and charge twice the price sort of strategy when it comes to women’s sports gear. They opted to create ads that feature women running the streets in their sports bras, barely breaking a sweat, or a gentle yoga routine with friends. Rarely, do we get to see the real emotion behind the sport and the women who are kicking ass.

In this ad, Serena Williams is reminding us that when women are deemed ‘crazy,’ just because they are ambitious, or believe in something, or are willing to stand as equals in the field of men – they are often the ones who are out there making history.

In this 90 second ad, Nike champions a wealth of female athletes with the commentary “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.” Williams, the narrator, is arguably one of the most empowering female athletes of her generation and has never been far from adversity. Williams has been scorned before, for having a baby and going back to competing soon after, for calling out sexism, for educating the general public about female athletes still getting paid less than their male counterparts. And, so it seems natural that Nike would align with her and her message of equal opportunity.

And, while some might think, ‘here we go again, women playing the victim,’ others will feel this ad speaks directly to them and their experiences. This is what divisive branding is for after all. Conversations, word of mouth, deep thinking, personal reflection. And aligning, so much aligning.

We will see more of this type of brand strategy in 2019. The release of content which is intended to burn relationships with those who were sitting on the fence. Content that will make advocates of individuals who align with the brand’s values.

I am one of those women who felt this ad resonated with me on a deeper level, it made me think back into my personal experiences with gender bias.

Smile more, girls can’t fight MMA, be careful not to break a nail, you should really eat a salad, wow don’t be so bitchy.

When I started in marketing, I made the mistake of telling people when I went in for an interview, that I wanted to be the chief marketing officer of Toyota, or be a manager right off the bat. They would just laugh and say, ‘yeah, we all want to be the boss kid’.

I had a headstrong personality and a sense of self-belief that no one could shake, so I had to stop telling people my goals in order to actually get my first job out of uni. Perhaps they didn’t know how to handle this little 19-year-old girl with ambitions. When I got my first job, my manager would often call me ‘bossy’ for trying to be proactive and get things done, when the sales coordinator who was a male and a few years older was titled ‘a leader.’

Clearly, I was ‘crazy’ too.

If you want a glimpse into the future, look at the ‘crazy’ women today. Because they are the ones we will teach our children about, they are the ones who are making history.

“So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can be.” – Serena Williams, 2019.

Pia Rees-Rogers is BusinessDEPOT‘s marketing coordinator.


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