Nike Celebrates Inspiration Over Victory in Invigorating Marathon Ad
There is nothing like running. The feeling of your feet hitting the ground. The sweat trickling down your forehead. The regimental breathing. It’s trying and rejuvenating; calming and stressful. There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment after finishing that last lap (some call it a “runner’s high”). However, no matter how fast we go, we may have to settle for second thanks to Nike’s “Fastest Ever”… or maybe use it as motivation to finish first.
On May 6, 2017, after backing by a Nike marketing campaign, Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge set out to break the two-hour marathon mark. He fell 25 seconds short. However, there was belief that something unseen had been accomplished and something extraordinary was on the horizon.
On September 15, 2018, the eve before the Berlin Marathon, Nike unveiled an ad dedicated to Kipchoge called “Fastest Ever”. He was barely in it. Instead, Nike placed the viewer in his shoes as Kipchoge ran down a road with Nike’s immortal message painted before him. Just do it. Kipchoge did. At the Berlin Marathon, he broke the world record by 1 minute and 20 seconds—finishing in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds. It wasn’t the 2-hour mark—but “Fastest Ever” with Kipchoge was a clear winner.
This ad “just did it” with these steps…
1. Simple – I can’t overstate this. Sometimes the best way to be effective and communicate is to be simple. Overdoing it can hurt. This ad was b-e-a-utifully simple! It’s one shot. Of a road. With Nike’s message painted on the pavement. Accompanied by subtly invigorating music and quiet, but present and effectual sound effects (those shoes on the pavement!), this ad made me want to drop what I was doing and go on a run. To just do it!
2. Music – In the credits it was listed as “Tree’s” by Robert DiPietro. I can’t find it anywhere, but when I do, I will run to it.
3. Cinematography – It was one shot, heavy in a blue color that for 95% of its duration photographed pavement disappearing under “our” feet. It worked. Some of my favorite films (No Country for Old Men, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) have shots of long stretches of road disappearing as the camera rolls over it as it did in this ad. It was hypnotic. It trapped me.
4. Point of View – This ad was celebrating Mr. Kipchoge and it did right by him. But instead of making us watch him, the ad instead made us feel as if we were him—running alone down a road via the use of the point-of-view angle for the shot. It put us in his shoes, running his steps, taking his breaths, so that by the time the camera moved and had him in a medium close up, it was as if we had accomplished the run with him and were still with him stride for stride. This was not an easy feat, but the ad pulled it off splendidly. There was a relationship between the subject and us. We cared. The words, “Its only crazy until you do it. Just do it,” have never been more inspiring.
Bad? This ad won GOLD!
Using a simple approach and a hard-to-pull-off cinematic angle with the point-of-view shot, Nike’s “Fastest Ever” did Mr. Kipchoge justice in its celebration of him while also inspiring viewers like me to “just do it”. Again, Nike is at the top of the podium.