Roller Nike
February 22, 2018

Nike: Nothing Beats A Londoner | A New Approach To Sports Technology

Written By Nikki McCaig

Neatly synchronised to the arrival of the Winter Olympic games in Korea, sporting brand Nike have released their Winter/Spring 2018 digital advert, amassing over 2 million online views in the first 24 hours after publication. Featuring a montage of sports stars and competitors travelling throughout London, continuing a cross-Zone debate over who has the toughest sporting journey in the city, the advert showcased over 258 athletes and 14 different London locations in its 3 minute run time.

The advert itself, entitled ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ has been cited by critics and reviews as one of the best online campaigns in history, and set to the tune of MC Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’, the vibrant sporting youth demographic of London has been accurately targeted and represented. So what exactly made this advert so significant in contrast to other, similar productions released in the sporting world, and where does technology come into it?

Diversity In Numbers

London’s vast and diverse demographic was unquestioningly represented in the Nike advert, with sports players of all genders, backgrounds and cultures being spotlighted across the production. But one of the reasons the advert made such an impact was not because of their inclusion in the ad, but also because of the way in which the individual struggles of both the player and the sport were highlighted too. The unsteady public interest in female football, for example, was flagged, with the notion that women have to pull off amazing feats of sport just to be noticed. Ice hockey was another sport referenced, as the activity is notably unpopular in cities, making it hard for those who enjoy it to engage with it fully.

Examples of diversity were also found in the celebrity sports stars featuring in the advert, with a real mix of sports and groups being included. Big names such as Harry Kane, Iwobi, Steph Haughton, Mo Farah and Leanne Cowen all had large roles, and played significant parts, helping to encourage the messages of diversity in sport, as well as raising the profiles of younger sports players with potential.

One criticism found in the media response to the advert, however, was that a significant portion of the London inhabitants was missing from the representation. Taken from an article in The Independent, the lack of Asian athletes in the production failed to accurately portray sport in London, as they make up the largest minority group in the city. The advert was accused of ‘perpetuating the stereotype that Asians don’t do sport’.

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Political and Social Commentary

Adding a sense of satirical humour to the already light-hearted advert, one clip in particular appeared to take a shot at one of once London Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘innovative’ policies to introduce communal sports areas in council funded spaces. Showing a young sports player battling for dominance amongst a crowd of other players all engaging in different sports on the pitch, the message was clear and direct.

But interestingly, the celebration of London took precedence in the production as it highlighted so many different areas of the city, and the voices of its residents from an inside perspective. With jokes about Zone 6, Peckham, black taxis, council estates, the Underground tube and many other London cultural areas, the city was both affectionately degraded and applauded by sporting personalities of all classes and backgrounds. Even the title of the advert, ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’, shared the sentiment of the capital city, symbolising the greatness of the city inhabitants, as well as their unbreakable sporting spirit.

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Brand and Technological Collaboration

One of the most interesting aspects of the production was actually in the re-framing of the Nike brand, and it’s integration of technology into the advert. With the slow evolution of the Nike tick turning into more of a fashion brand than a sporting brand, as consumers united over the casual wear of the gear, this advert sought to strip back their marketing to its original purpose. By showcasing only athletes and sporting stars wearing the Nike trainers and sports kit, the unique purpose of Nike was evident, and intended to drive more niche traffic towards their already popular brand.

But this advert also highlighted a big change in terms of the technological skill used in the production. From 360 degree cameras, to high budget shooting angles, to quicktime editing frames, the finished product of the advert was an impressive technological feat, and, although Nike was reluctant to share their exact budget on the project, this was a really positive move towards highly publicized sports and technical collaborations in future.

The use of smartphones was also capitalised on in the advert, with one portion of the montage featuring the viral capacity for sporting highlights through sharing on social media – using celebrities such as Harry Kane, Steph Houghton and Eden Hazard to celebrate the power of the internet. Sporting moments and sporting icons combined really helped to support the combination of technology and fitness, continuing shifts from products such as the Fitbit to overlap these two immense sectors.

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Nike as a brand has grown from strength to strength in terms of its global marketing and social campaigns over the past couple of years, and their new messages of diversity, inclusivity and community are likely to set them apart from the crowd as one of the most successful sports brands in history.