Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Dream Crazier: the ad that celebrates women in sport

Celebrating 30 years of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan, a new advert was unveiled during the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony. The 90 second ad, titled Dream Crazier, features 23-time Grand Slam champion, Serena Williams, and other history-making female athletes and coaches. Hijab-wearing fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, and runner Caster Semenya, who was forced to undergo gender-confirmation tests after breaking the world record for 800 metres, are some of those included in the campaign.

The powerful and dramatic narration, in typical Nike style, is provided by tennis all-star, Williams, on top of moving archival footage. “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams narrates. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical or irrational or just being crazy.”

Williams, who has been vocal about her experiences with sexism in sport, concludes: “So if they want to call you crazy? Fine. Show them what crazy can do.” The narration overturns the label ‘crazy’ that is often negatively applied to female athletes and encourages women to “show them what crazy can do.” The simplicity of the message, based on the rejection of the negative denotations of the word ‘crazy,’ renders it vivid and assertive.

It shines a spotlight on female athletes who have broken barriers, brought people together through their performance and inspired generations of athletes to chase after their dreams

A celebration of female athletes who have broken barriers, the William’s advert has outperformed the predecessor campaign in a study of emotional engagement. The original Dream Crazy advert was narrated by Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL athlete, blacklisted for kneeling during the US national anthem in protest of police brutality. The study used artificial intelligence emotion-tracking technology to test the two spots with 500 male and female US citizens. The most recent campaign scored eight out of ten overall in Realeye’s EmotionAll measure and scored higher on engagement, retention and impact.

Interestingly, in William’s spot, men’s engagement peaked at points of high passion (when the narrator critiques accusations of women being ‘hysterical’) but dipped at moments where Williams talks about equal opportunities. Meanwhile, female engagement grows more evenly throughout the short film.

The Dream Crazier advert and campaign is receiving universal acclaim online, with many taking to social media to praise the women featured and the brand for making such a feminist statement, with Twitter users claiming it Oscar-worthy. It shines a spotlight on female athletes who have broken barriers, brought people together through their performance and inspired generations of athletes to chase after their dreams.

Nike showcases the strength of women in sport and beyond, raising awareness of the sociocultural hurdles women must overcome to excel in sports

It is important to bear in mind that companies attempt to foster brand loyalty by using social justice movements. However, in this case, the value of the message trumps Nike’s capitalist motives. As we head towards International Women’s Day, Nike showcases the strength of women in sport and beyond, raising awareness of the sociocultural hurdles women must overcome to excel in sports – hurdles that men rarely have to face.

Nike’s ‘Just do it’ mantra and legacy is deeply woven into this new campaign. Unlike Kaepernick’s advert, which was greeted with both praise and scorn, Williams’ narration and appearance in the ad has been exclusively praised. Not only does the advert fulfil its marketing duties, it encourages women to breakdown boundaries and ‘dream crazier’.

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