Ad experts share their take on Nike’s ‘Dream Crazier’

Late last summer, Nike made headlines by joining Colin Kaepernick’s fight against racism and racial discrimination in the ad “Dream Crazy.”

On Sunday, Nike made another powerful statement, this time about female empowerment and gender equality, in a spot called “Dream Crazier.”

The new ad, narrated by tennis great Serena Williams, challenges the blatant sexism and stereotypes faced by women in sport with a montage of female athletes proving how absurd those stereotypes are. It popped on social media late Sunday afternoon and ran during the Oscars Sunday night. Nike said the ad was the start of “celebration of women in sport” ahead of the Women’s World Cup in France in June.

The Message reached out to some Canadian ad experts to get their opinions on the new ad. First, the strategist POV from Elana Gorbatyuk, chief strategy officer at Sid Lee:

At a high level the strategy makes sense, she said. “I commend Nike for using its voice to spark social debate and progress. That bravery of putting your money where your mouth is when it counts, is what truly counts,” she said. “As we’ve seen with Nike before, when they approach their voice with integrity and risk, it counts all the way to their top and bottom lines as well.”

As a competitive female athlete and feminist, she loved it. But, as a strategist “obsessed with the details,” she had one suggestion. “I watched the ad the first time on mute and I found the pacing and scenes actually more impactful than when I watched it again with sound,” she said. “In this case, I don’t think the work needed the explicit manifesto. The strength of the idea could breathe and allow for just a provocative question or statement—the same incredibly brave and vulnerable footage that allows us to come to the same conclusions on our own and then reveal the declarative and powerful thought in the end.”

Here’s what the creatives had to say:

“This spot got me at the first line: ‘If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic.’ Because, how many times, as a woman, have you heard this line dropped on you? Not only in sport, but in the general pursuit of your passions? As humans, we love underdog stories. Some of the our favourite ads point to the inner ‘crazy’ that drives us to the next level and beyond—think Apple’s ‘The Crazy Ones,’ and Adidas’ ‘Impossible is Nothing.’ Sadly, this campaign’s story is rooted in the notion of women existing as an entire underdog gender, but it’s a powerful reminder that ‘It’s only crazy until you do it.’ We have done it. Many times over.”—Nellie Kim, partner, vice-president and executive creative director, lg2.

“My first thought was, ‘F#%k, this is great.’ I love that we women are finally having our moment. To start on that close up of raw emotion was so captivating. And the truth in this spot is brilliant. That said, do we need to be so intrinsically tied to the word “crazy”?  All in all, though, it’s another powerfully resonant spot from Nike.”—Alexis Bronstorph, executive creative director, Taxi Toronto

“This is a brilliant extension of Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ platform, perfectly highlighting the struggles and triumphs of female athletes. Like the original spot, I feel like I am seeing and learning something new, and the tension throughout makes it so much more than your typical ‘Rah, rah, go girls’ anthem that we are so tired of seeing. The flawless execution, well-researched examples, and willingness to embrace the negative make this a huge win for me. I do, however, wonder how long the shelf life will be on this type of gendered advertising before the ads themselves simply reinforce the negative stereotypes they seek to overcome.”— Domenique Raso, senior copywriter, BBDO

“Nike has taken the right stance on an important societal issue, but unfortunately executed it in a way that feels like a glorified sizzle reel. Typically, montages have to work harder to be memorable because there’s so much to take in.”Natalie Armata, co-founder and chief creative officer, Giants & Gentlemen

“An incredible Nike spot that reminds us that even though there is progress being made, there is still so much stigma associated with being a strong female. I look forward to the day when we are past making commercials like this.”Christina Yu, managing partner, creative director, Rethink

“I mean, how can I not love this message? I’m the daughter of an unstoppable feminist. I’ve been in sports my whole life. I think Serena is a superhero. This message is not only super relevant for female athletes, but for any female. So check, the message connects. The ad itself? Well, it’s a Nike ad. A well-crafted and star-studded 90-second Nike ad. But honestly, I was hoping for a fresher approach to the women-in-sport ripomatic. One that matched the powerful message (and examples of women) it holds.” Steph Mackie, co-founder and co-chief creative officer, Mackie Biernacki

David Brown