Just in the beginning of May, the multinational footwear and apparel goliath Nike released a short video advertisement on YouTube and on television titled “Play New”, which showcases a series of athletes making mistakes or falling in their respective activities or sports. The video has 60 million views on YouTube alone by now and has garnered a great amount of attention given its highly unique story arc.
The moment I saw this ad on television for the first time, it immediately captured me and had me paying attention to a commercial as opposed to going through my phone just waiting for it to end. Once I started seeing the actors in the video fall, miss shots and go through some awkward gym fails, I was taken by surprise because I was intrigued as to where the video was going with all of it. Surely, there must be a point to all of these athletes failing, right? A somewhat brief video but a powerful one nonetheless, I loved the message and how much more real and authentic it felt, especially because it takes the viewer through a feeling that is all too common for many of us.
The very first thing the voiceover says in the video is “Here’s to going for it… and being terrible.” Right off the bat, the video grabs the viewer’s attention. Most viewers at this point are probably wondering why a commercial would talk about being terrible at something. The next several lines are in reference to the specific activity that is being shown in the video but are basically repeating the same idea of being bad at something.
As the video approaches its end, the viewer can hear the voiceover say “You know what doesn’t suck? Trying to do something you’ve never done before.” If it wasn’t clear for the viewer by the mid-point of the video, the narrative is explicitly presented upon the video’s conclusion: “go for it.”
The narrative of the video is told through a very unique and innovative design, as it shows the viewer a much more real and honest presentation of what it means to become an athlete and to become proficient in any sport, skill, or physical activity in general. Showing all of these real, non-famous athletes go through some awkward mistakes, falls, and fails is much more likely to gain the viewer’s attention, as it did with me.
The video highlights one attribute all of these athletes have in common: the greatness in overcoming boundaries and stepping out of their comfort zones by trying new things, regardless of the mistakes and accidents that this road is paved with. Nike is trying to tell the viewer that no matter how many times you fall, the fact that you’re trying to do something new is what is truly inspiring and awesome on its own.
It inspires the viewer to overcome that fear they may have of starting or getting back to something they are bad at or have not excelled in, and does an excellent job in spurring the viewer to get up from their bed and not miss practice that day, or maybe even picking up that instrument that’s just picking up dust again. It doesn’t have to be a sport; the message can impact the viewer for just about any hobby or interest they have.
Whatever the scenario may be, Nike takes a much more humanized approach in this story by showing us that we all start out being pretty bad at something but can only go higher from there, always. The company aims to connect with the viewer, as it doesn’t focus on any particular product or service but rather attempts to build or strengthen customer trust through a strong story told with the company’s personality. This helps Nike in relating to their existing customers and to new potential ones on a more personal level. It serves as a creative method of presenting their mission of inspiring athletes worldwide. Through this story, those who felt inspired and connected to Nike because of the video will be eager to become more loyal to the company or to find out more about it and become a new customer.
I chose this simple yet powerful video because I felt inspired by its message and because I fell in love with how they told this story through such a creative and attention-grabbing method. I can not think of any other video, let alone advertisement, that has inspired me to keep going and getting back up on my feet no matter how many times I fall, the way this one did. I was already more of a Nike guy myself, and this video only further solidifies my loyalty to the brand.