Ad as biopic

Just finished watching the (fabulous) Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. Aside from the amazing tennis (the one sport I turn on the TV to watch), I was fascinated by a great Nike ad, in a format I don’t remember seeing before.

Essentially, the ad plays as a human interest segment, like the ones larded onto the Olympics every five minutes. It’s not identifiable as an ad for most of its playing time.

We hear “He was born in Basel, Switzerland…” with pictures of Roger Federer as a baby, kid, “started playing tennis at six years old.” Roger playing tennis. “He could have been a soccer player, but chose tennis.” Roger in a soccer uniform, then playing tennis again. Roger as a young adult. “He once had a temper,” throwing rackets, “but found his cool – and became a champion.” Lifting the champion’s cup at Wimbledon (the first time). “His forehand is feared by all.” More action shots. “He’s the only player to win three majors three times.” More lifting trophies. “He’s definitely the man to beat. His name is Roger Federer. He’s won ten majors, and counting.” More playing time, more dramatic music.

And then the music stops, and we cut to the top of a baseball cap, and a very familiar face looks up. “But my name is Tiger Woods. I have twelve majors and counting. So keep up, buddy.” Just do it tagline on screen, Nike swoosh and

Did I mention this ad is a 60? The length, along with the adulatory words, music, and images, make it seem like editorial content, not an ad. And the production values and sense of humor mean it doesn’t feel like a waste of your time even after you hit the Nike tagline.

The best touch? After Federer finally won his five-set, dramatic title match, the ad played once more. And this time, it said, “He’s won eleven majors, and counting.” Beautiful job, Nike.

About Jennifer Berk

I'm an analytics and data leader with a marketing and product mindset. I like online newspapers, science fiction and fantasy, and ugly fish.
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