Nike's spectacular split-screen film captures imaginations

The ad also features a scene of the India women’s cricket team.

NEW DELHI: Over the last few years, Nike has been embracing the culture of diversity and vibrantly displaying it through its commercials. The latest is the third film in its ‘You can’t stop us’ series. The 90-second ad has already made waves celebrating sports as a source of inspiration during hard times.

Narrated by American soccer player Megan Rapinoe, the video so far has garnered 39,004,413 views on YouTube.

“Players may be back on the pitch, but we are not going back to an old normal. We need to continue to re-imagine this world and make it better,” said Rapinoe. “We have all these people in the streets, using their voices and those voices are being heard. I ask people to be energised by this moment and not let up. I believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to advocate for change.”

Scarecrow M&C Saatchi founder Raghu Bhatt is in awe of the way the ad has been presented. “The discus thrower morphing into the ballerina is editing genius. The last few Nike films have been about the idea and the writing. This one, however, is craft at its best. Though the words are powerful, what shines through is the painstaking effort that must have gone into creating every sequence,” he says.

Bhatt adds that neither is using a split-screen a new visual technique nor the tagline a path-breaking advertising idea. Yet, the film has gone viral. “A world-class athlete pushes the bounds of human possibility. This film shows unfettered movement and unencumbered freedom while we, the audience, are shackled in our Covid2019 prisons. It shows hope and reminds us what we are capable of,” he adds.

Rapinoe’s commentary in the ad builds on the ability of sports to bring people together, the fear of the pandemic, the social unrests and the fight for justice, all bound with hope.

Brand-nomics MD Viren Razdan shares, “The Indian women team's huddle was a special relatable fan moment for me. Nike’s core has been built on the power of ‘the athlete in all of us.’ Its various episodes of self-belief and perseverance against all odds have been inspirational stories.”

Razdan further adds, “Nike's communication style has always been larger than life and so is this. It very often set off a trend in advertising, style, scale and spirit is unmatchable. Nike has created a collective comeback story with this ad, for the first time perhaps about us.”

The ad tackles timely topics like Covid2019 and black lives matter. The spot also features athletes like Colin Kaepernick, Kylian Mbappé, Serena Williams, Lebron James, Naomi Osaka, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Cristiano Ronaldo and the Indian women's cricket team.

Tonic Worldwide managing partner and creative head Shourya Ray Chaudhuri, too, found the Indian women's team being featured in the ad as his favourite moment. But apart from that, he loved the edit of the Williams sisters.

“It definitely hit home with everyone. However, I felt that while the edit was awesome the story did not show much promise. Having said that, not many sports brands have even said anything about a situation that demanded the closure of their core business. The playing field was even. Nike scored,” he says.

However, Chaudhuri feels the matter to be a bit stronger. “Not many brands have the courage to go for a non-traditional edit. It is fresh. But I wish the matter was a bit stronger. Maybe we are expecting too much from Nike?” he questions.

The creative agency behind bringing this kind of masterpiece editing is Wieden + Kennedy. The team looked at 4000 sequences and whittled down to 72 sports action together and merged them to create 36 split-screen slides to stitch this exquisite tapestry of sports montage.

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