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Nike Women. The Past, Present, and Future, Is Female

Named after the Greek goddess of speed, strength and victory, Nike has created innovative brand and marketing strategies for over five decades, that capture the essence of womanhood, while deconstructing the social stigmas surrounding women in sport, in the belief that the past, present and future is female.

Heidi O’Neill, Consumer, Product & Nike Brand President, at a Women’s World Cup event hosted in Sydney, was quoted as saying; “We don’t just push messages and purpose; we collaborate with our athletes, standing side by side and letting them lead the way.”

Nike’s support of women however, are not defined by conventional notions of athleticism, or restricted to professional sport-playing fields. In recent years, Nike has extended partnerships to movers and shakers in various fields of creative activity, such as practitioners of music and dance performances.

1. Nike Women, This Is Us

Advertising Agency: Weiden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Production Company: Academy Films, London, UK

Post Production and VFX Studios: Glassworks, London, UK

Directed by the filmmaking duo of Christopher Barrett, and Luke Taylor, ‘This is Us’ is a masterly produced commercial of morphing scenes, that challenge prevailing gender stereotypes in Turkey, and defy the impositions of traditional female roles.

With Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World Girls’ as the soundtrack, the commercial features prominent female figures from Turkey’s emerging sport and fitness regimes, in filmic portrayals that are entertainingly engaging.

2. Nike Women, Da-Da-Ding

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Delhi, India

Production Company : Division, Paris, France

Post Production and VFX Studios: Mathematic, Paris, France

Wieden+Kennedy Delhi’s first advertising campaign for Nike, was conceived and produced in 2016, to motivate registration and participation in Nike Training Club events, and Run Club sessions in India, under their ‘NTC Live’ banner.

The campaign had a strong feminist focus, based on the Agency and Nike’s sociological and psychological insights, that female participation in sports impacts positively on self-image and self-assurance, by instilling a sense of control, competency and strength.

Directed by filmmaker François Rousselet, and featuring Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, along with many of India’s top female athletes, representing a wide range of sporting disciplines, the The ‘Da-Da-Ding’ launch commercial, was a creative triumph, that rapidly went viral and motivated 2,8 million online views in less than a week.

Deepika Padukone posted a video on social media that generated further interest and many ‘shares’ with her message: “Everything I am today, and everything I have achieved, comes from my years of playing sport.”

“My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work; I’ve learned it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!”

The “Da-Da-Ding” soundtrack by Gener8ion, with vocals by American rapper Gizzle, elevated the award-winning Cannes Gold Lion commercial, to even greater heights as a chart-topping, online music-video phenomenon, that became a rallying call to female athletes and sportswomen globally.

3. Nike Women, You Can’t Stop The Future

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Tokyo, Japan

Production House: Nakama Film, Tokyo, Japan

Post Production and VFX Studios: The Mill, London, UK

Directed by multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker, Jovan Todorovic, Nike’s ‘You Can’t Stop The Future’ short film, is based on the real-life experiences of three football-playing girls from different backgrounds in Japan.

Conceived and produced in 2020, the emotive scenarios of their daily struggles to overcome their ‘brick wall’ encounters of misunderstanding, and self doubt, that threatened to prevent them from being their best, was widely acclaimed, but also hotly debated on social media, about whether the commercial was a true or false representation of modern Japanese society.

A controversy that has endured to this day, with the likes of Long Island New Yorks’s, Haitian-Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, challenging old ideas about what it means to be Japanese.

4. Nike Women, Imperfect You

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Tokyo, Japan

Production Company: Park Pictures, London, UK

Post Production and VFX Studios: Jitto, Tokyo, Japan

Conceived and produced for ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ on 11 October 2023, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo’s inspired ‘Imperfect You’ scenario, encourages young women to experience the liberating power of sport, to escape the societal pressures in Japan, of excelling at school, embarking on a successful career, and maintaining an illusionary social media profile of idolised ‘perfection’.

Masterly directed by filmmaker Georgia Hudson, with esteemed cinematographer Steve Annis from St. Malo in Brittany, behind the camera, the pressures of perfection on Japanese women from previous eras, that still prevail today, even though circumstances have changed, are cinematically depicted, in imaginatively realised, metaphorical and surreal images.

The entertaining ‘Imperfect You, short film, that forms part of Nike’s global campaign of reimagining the future of sport, features Nike ‘movers and shakers’ such as breakdancer Ami Yuasa, and skateboarders Yurin Fujii, and Ginwoo Onodera.

5. Nike Women, Dream Crazier

I love this Serena Williams quote: ”If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts, delusional, unhinged, hysterical, and irrational.”

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

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Oregon, USA

Production Company: Somesuch, Los Angeles, California, USA

Post Production and VFX Studios: A52, Santa Monica, California, USA

Directed by gifted filmmaker Kim Gehrig, and narrated by Serena Williams, ‘Dream Crazier’ pays tribute to female athletes who have broken barriers, brought people together through their celebratory performances, and inspired young athletes to chase after their dreams.

Serena’s motivating message, amplified by her personal experiences and remarkable achievements, features scenes of noteworthy triumphs by some of the greatest female athletes in the world, that include Simone Biles, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Chloe Kim, members of the US Women’s National Soccer Team and Serena Williams, along with rising stars and young female athletes.

6. Nike Women, What Will They Say About You?

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Production Company: Division, Paris, France

Service Production Company: N3 Films, Dubai, UAE

Post Production and VFX Studios: Glassworks, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sound Design and Music Studios: Grand Central, London, UK

“What will they say about you?”, is a common Arabic phrase used in every home in the Middle East when one member of the family does something out of the ordinary, and the family’s worried about what others might think.

Directed by renowned filmmaker Fleur Fortunén, the impressive produced commercial to encourage girls and women of the Middle East and beyond, to do ‘their thing’, no matter who or what tries to hold them back, stars Yemeni-Emirati singer and actress Balquees Fathi, and women athletes from the Arab region that include Parkour trainer Amal Mourad, figure skater Zahra Lari, fencer Inès Boubakri, and boxer Arifa Bseiso, and features a soundtrack by British contemporary composer and producer, Philip Kay, titled “Full Circle”.

7. Nike Women, Further Than Ever

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Shanghai, China

Production Company: Academy Films, London, UK

Post Production and VFX Studio: Moving Picture Company, Shanghai, China

Nike’s ‘Further Than Ever’ integrated advertising campaign, seeks to break down social barriers, by celebrating China’s inspiring women athletes, who ignored disparaging misogynist views, to push themselves to laudable heights, of their chosen sport disciplines.

The commercial features Tennis Champion Li Na, five-star Boxing Champion Cai Zong Ju, Professional High-Jumper Cecilia Yeung, Champion Rowers Tina Liang Mintian, Cloris Chen Yuli, Amber Li Xiaobing and Sarah Meng, as well as blogger and Mental Health Advocate Nina Guo.

Directed by filmmaker Ian Pons Jewell, the meticulously planned and masterly edited kinetic images, make for impressively filmic and rewarding viewing.

8. Nike Women, Hip-Hop Dance-Off

Advertising Agency: Weiden+Kennedy, Portland, Oregon, USA

Production Company: Park Pictures, Los Angeles, California, USA

Original Music and Sound Studios: Endless Noise, Santa Monica, California, USA

Directed by filmmaker Lance Acord, Nike JDI’s TV and cinema commercial, stars dancers Maria Vinogradova and Anastsiya Soboleva.

Sports and fitness scientists unanimously rate professional dancers among the world’s fittest athletes, and the Russian ballerinas in a hip-hop dance-off, are a fitting tribute to female athleticism, elegant physicality, and dance routine disciplines.

The expressive performances of the two stars, each representing a different dance genre, evolves into one, visually engaging, synchronised movement.

The soundtrack by Endless Noise Music Producer, Mary Catherine Finney, is a remix of Alexander Borodin’s composition, “Polovtsian Dance”.