#YouCantStopUs: a triumph of execution from @Nike and other creative ads of the week

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A new ad from Nike – ‘You can’t stop us’ released a couple of days ago has gone viral. At the time of writing it had 31mn views on Twitter and 30mn views on YouTube. When you add its views and shares on other social media platforms it can surely be counted as a monster hit. What’s notable is that as with truly popular ads, the creative was not just discussed or commented upon by ad agency & marketing professionals alone – everyone was full of praise.

Agency: W+K, Portland. See the full credits here.

As many others have pointed out, the ad is an editing marvel. Apparently, 4,000 sports action sequences were researched and 72 of them were chosen to be combined into 36 split-screen moments. Incidentally the director, Oscar Hudson was also the one behind the famous commercial for Apple AirPods titled, ‘Bounce’.

In my view, the Nike ad is a triumph of execution. While that is an obvious statement to make, it should not be construed as ‘style over substance’ or as a route that is easily taken by every brand. We have all seen plenty of commercials which are slick, have great production values or fantastic computer graphics but fail to move us or at best impress us for a few seconds only to be forgotten soon. In the Nike ad, the ‘split-screen’ execution is not a first but definitely executed like never before. It can be seen as an expression of the creative idea: ‘Nothing can stop what we can do together’ but that again is something common in sports-based ads. Many of them, including Nike’s past films, follow a format: a montage of sports clips, set to rousing music or a voice over with ‘deep’ meaning – all coming together to a crescendo towards the end.

In advertising, it is generally believed that ads based on an idea have a better chance of breaking clutter and being noticed, remembered. But there are exceptions, as with every rule. Sometimes, ads without a central idea can gain attention and traction thanks to the execution – it could be a memorable jingle, anthem song or execution style which aids the clutter-breaking ability. But to rely on that as a strategy to create effective advertising every time is just not possible. In short, all brands cannot rely on the ‘execution will get us noticed and loved’ route all the time. With the Nike ad, couple of other factors come into play: the legacy of the brand’s connect with consumers and flawless execution, which comes at a cost. Nike has a built an emotional connect with decades of investments behind ‘Just Do It’ idea and several other initiatives with celebrity sportspersons which call for deep pockets – a luxury not enjoyed by all brands. Also, the symbolism of ‘we will overcome’ kind of messaging (which many brands have adopted during COVID-19) works thanks to the timing and conveys a positive feeling of hope. In sum, it is a triumph of flawless execution aided by brand’s equity and positive resonance of the core message.

Here are a few other creative ideas which caught my eye last week:

Chocolate Factory: A Tasty Summer Flavour

Here’s another triumph of execution, coupled with an idea, this time in print. A chocolate brand created summer scenes through some great food styling anchored around the product, showcasing it visually.

Agency: Artbox Studios, Egypt. Via.

Coca-Cola: Open Like Never Before

A new ad for Coca-Cola is a proclamation of a manifesto urging us to be ‘open like never before’ – asking us to appreciate what we previously took for granted and explore new opportunities. We’ve reached a stage where many brands are taking the brand purpose route – making lofty claims and promises but realising that they need to be followed by action on the ground. While research says that consumers prefer being associated with brands which take a stand and convey a larger brand purpose, brands rushing into this territory have two aspects to think about: no amount of marketing can be a replacement for product performance and all such activities will be seen as mere posturing if not followed up through action.

Agency: 72andSunny, Amsterdam

In the case of Coca-Cola, it will include a host of in-market activity to back up the above claim.

Coke will help these small businesses develop ads for digital, social and outdoor to promote their restaurant, bar or shop, using the creative message of the Open Like Never Before campaign.


Heineken: Back to the Bars

Brands affected by the COVID-19 crisis are doing all they can to assuage consumers and get them to spend. Travel & hospitality brands have been particularly affected and have taken initiatives to keep their brands top of mind even if scope for usage now is nil. Heineken’s new ad prepares the ground for consumer behaviour and in a way educates them on what to expect when restaurants & bars open up in Europe: air hugs, elbow bumps and 1.5m cheers. It may be unsettling and a put-off for some, to view such scenarios – but initiatives such as these will be required to keep on re-assuring consumers.

Agency: Publicis, Italy

Barilla: Roof Top Match with Roger Federer

A video of a couple of girls playing tennis on roof tops during the lockdown period was quite popular in social media.

Barilla, the food brand, saw their video and decided to surprise the girls by getting Roger Federer to pay them a visit and have lunch. Moreover, he got the girls admission into the summer camp at the Rafa Nadal Academy. As stunts go, the format of talking heads with a surprise guest in the room next to them is not new. But the timing and the right associations by way of celebrity and the product category made it interesting.

Agency: We Are Social

Thai Health Promotion Foundation: Replacing Alcohol Bottle

As I mentioned in an earlier post, advertising from Thailand is unique in many ways. To combat the ills of alcohol addiction, the concerned agencies have taken a humorous route. While the first one spoke in general terms a new set ads highlight the options of what can be done productively if one kicks the habit.

Agency: Leo Burnett

Which one was your favourite? Comment in.

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