Nike, regardless of your perception of them as a company, has phenomenal advertising. (In fairness, much of this is thanks to their close association with Wieden+Kennedy.)
But which spot is tops?
I wrote this post today because Josh Q. Public found this ad:
Sure, it’s got the two predictable Premiership teams (Manchester United and Arsenal, stocked with swoosh-wearers), but it uses “O Fortuna” more effectively than another brand, with motion that beats static imagery.
I was taken by the first “Leave Nothing” spot, directed by Michael Mann:
The NFL’s so self-cannibalizing that the two players in that one spent 2008 in obscurity or out of commission, but last year’s version was even more stirring:
Check this Jordan Brand commercial for more evidence of the power of childhood dreams and playground pretending is something Nike gets:
(That gives me goosebumps and on-end hairs from the first note. Having MJ around as an icon and pitchman hasn’t hurt Nike.)
But they can do it with lesser stars, too:
(The thing I like best about that one is that there’s one made basket in the entire ad. Lionizing the little things is how you make ads with players from New Orleans, Detroit, Atlanta, and Denver work.)
Though the same formula works with megastars:
A first-person fantasy ad works:
Plumbing the depths of pain is effective, though the ultimate payoff here is a letdown:
Draping an ad in Olympic glory is effective, though the quick cuts are distracting:
If you combine the Olympics, roundball, and Marvin Gaye, it’s better:
Co-opting a good hip-hop song is effective, even if it is Juelz Santana:
As you can see, Saul Williams is far better:
Viral works, because this is legendary:
(I don’t care whether it’s real or not–for my money, it’s at least retouched–but, if you’re going to make the claim that your shoes can do something ridiculous, be as ridiculous as possible.)
Nike’s got a sense of humor, too, which is wonderful.
Whoever thought the Joga TV ads up definitely knows the romantic soccer fan.
And the “My Better is Better” ads had funny moments:
But this one, down here? This is classic:
It and the Jordan ad fourth from the top are my picks for Nike’s best ads.
And I think, when it comes to athletic advertising, Nike’s the king, and everyone else is throwing rocks at the throne. (Yes, I know Jay-Z has a Reebok shoe. This perturbs me.)
But do you disagree? Do you think I missed an ad or two? Comment below or holler at me on Twitter, and we’ll keep the conversation going.