For the most part, Nike advertising revolves around role models—professional athletes, or people who look like they could be professional athletes, sweating and playing while wearing the swoosh. The idea was to inspire. Most people who use Nike products aspire, on some level, to be athletic—to be like the toned athletes shown in the Nike advertisements. I strongly stand behind the fact that Nike was not ignoring those who don’t resemble these athletes. It was simply an advertising strategy, depicting Nike as an elite athletic brand used by the top athletes in the world.
Then, out came the “Find Your Greatness” commercial, in 2012 by Wieden+Kennedy.
A chubby boy runs down a country road, towards the camera, while the hunky Tom Hardy inspires us with the inspiring words, ” Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few, for prodigies, for superstars, and the rest of us can only stand by watching.
You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand, not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We’re all capable of it. All of us.” Buzzfeed wrote an article that blasts the commercial for falsely claiming that we all can be great. “The ad is a lie,” the article says, “Let’s hope obese people who should be walking slowly, at most—not running, uphill—don’t start piling up in emergency rooms and morgues…You know what? Let’s give everybody who tries super hard in school A+’s.”
Woah, woah, woah. I’m sorry, are you asking that Nike come out and say “sorry fat people, you shouldn’t run. Just walk.” Hell no. It’s called inspiration. You have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is different for everyone.
The expansion of the elite Nike brand to all body types is endearing and inspirational. Some argue that Nike needs to expand the clothing as well, in order to fit larger body types, which might be a good idea if they continue the “Find Your Greatness” campaign. But for now, the motive behind the ad is good enough for me. Everyone’s level of motivation and ability is different, and Nike is finally recognizing that while still encouraging them to get out and get moving.