We take a look at the 10 best Nike commercials in its 50-year history.
Nike is celebrating. And it is not for less, this year marks 50 years since Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded “Blue Ribbon Sports” to distribute Onistsuka Tiger (currently ASICS) footwear in the United States. It was not until 1971 that the relationship between the two companies would come to an end and Phil Knight decided to transfer all his know-how to create his brand of sneakers under the name of Nike.
So, in 1976, he hired John Brown and Partners, his first advertising agency to help him grow sales. 4 years later he changed to Wieden + Kennedy and even today, 40 years later, it is still his head advertising agency. It was the founder, Dan Wieden who created the slogan “Just Do It” which was chosen by Advertising Age as one of the five most important slogans of the 20th century.
Without a doubt, Nike has revolutionized marketing and advertising on numerous occasions, which is why, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we are going to list the ten best Nike commercials.
“There is No Finish Line”
We kicked off the Top 10 Nike Commercials special with an honorable mention. The first advertisement made by the John Brown and Partners agency and that marked the idea that Phil Knight had when it came to selling his shoes. “There is no finish line” is an advertisement created in 1980 that could well be valid today. An ad that makes no mention of the product, only the brand. And the benefits you will enjoy wearing that brand. The pleasure of running for the sake of running, without the need to get anywhere or beat any time.
10. Find Your Greatness
We start with the 10th best Nike commercial. In 2012 Nike surprised everyone with a series of advertising campaigns under the slogan “Find Your Greatness”. In them they present us with a series of little athletes who seek the courage to carry out daily actions when playing. An inspiring, clear, impressive message that encourages everyone to be what they can be, which is reflected in the first spot of all, where we see an obese boy starting to run despite the problems that it entails.
09. Michael Jordan and Spike Lee
Nike was the brand that saw in Michael Jordan what the others failed to see. Jordan decided on the American brand because through an imaginative contract, it allowed him to feel comfortable escaping from the ties of the big brands of the moment. Both revolutionized sports marketing and the rest is history. The ad starring Michael Jordan and Spike Lee as “Mars” (which he would bring back for Nike’s 50th anniversary advert) kicked off the Air Jordan product line.Watch Michael Jordan and Spike Lee Advert
Chosen as the best commercial of 2018 by Eslogan Magazine, “Air” will surely not appear in any top 10 of the brand. It’s an announcement he made when his “AirVaporMax” sneakers were launched and, with the maxim “Less is more”, they delight us with a brilliant exercise in production, editing and sound.
One minute long, “Air” begins slowly, accompanying those protagonists before starting the test and feeling their breath. We follow them during maximum effort and when we see them reach their initial goal.Watch Air Advert Review
07. Mamba Forever
On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash. The brand paid him an advertising tribute before his funeral. An exercise in minimalism where letters were superimposed on a black background with the word “Forever” fixed on the right. His successes in basketball, his awards, his titles and his role as father, husband and legend were reviewed.Watch Mamba Forever Advert Review
In the 90s, Nike began its landing in Europe to sponsor teams and soccer players. His way of understanding sports marketing turned the conception of soccer and its stars upside down at the entertainment level. And all in European territory, where Adidas was the clear dominant. A time when the battle to control the rights of soccer players was the keynote. But Nike got ahead of everyone by signing the Brazilian soccer team and its ‘Jogo Bonito’, a name they coined precisely thanks to Nike’s advertising campaign.
For the 1998 World Cup in France, Nike had a golden opportunity to show that its time had come to dominate sports marketing. And they made an announcement that -unknowingly- would lay the foundations for what would be viral marketing 20 years later and that experienced the boom thanks to the expansion of the Internet.Watch Airport Advert Review
05. Dream Crazy
In 2019, Nike made a significant shift in its communication. On the back of the controversy initiated by the gesture of Colin Kaepernick protesting against racism, the brand decided to position itself clearly in favor of the athlete. At a time when the polarity of opinions was very pronounced, the brand suffered some boycotts, but as the activist Adam Best commented: “Supporting Colin Kaepernick at a time when most brands lack political courage is something that generations future will remember as part of the brand’s legacy. Some things are bigger than the balance of accounts… like being on the right side of history.”Watch Dream Crazy Advert review
04. Dream Further
In 2019, the Women’s World Cup was held in France. The brand took advantage of the historical moment to position itself in favor of women’s football, just as it did in 1998 with men’s football and its “Airport”. An announcement that marked a before and after in the brand strategy regarding the sponsorship of women’s football. With an inspiring, fresh and modern video, “Dream Further” encourages us to leave everything classic about this sport behind and embrace the new modern football, one where women are protagonists.Watch Dream Further Advert review
03. Just Do It
We enter the top3 of the best Nike commercials in its 50-year history. The collaboration of the Wieden+Kennedy agency began to bear fruit with the creation of the slogan “Just Do It” which was used for the first time in a television spot in 1988. The phrase was included for the first time as the closing of a television campaign starring by an 80-year-old retiree who still ran many kilometers every day. The slogan struck a chord with consumers.Watch Just Do It Advert
02. Good vs Evil
Not all brands are lucky enough to have an advertising campaign that will mark an entire generation. If you ask anyone born in the 80s, they will tell you that this ad is the best thing they have ever seen. And it is not for less, the story starring Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Kluivert, Figo, and Maldini was the most expensive advertisement in a long time and was advertised with teasers on television and on the day of the premiere. A special event was held on all European televisions and unknowingly (once again) Nike created “hype” at a time when there were few channels on television.Watch Good vs Evil Advert
01. You can’t stop us
One of the most beautiful characteristics of advertising is that it has the ability to surprise you, to make you believe, to make you fall in love again. They are short stories capable of changing a little bit of you. Of course, it is the example of what for us is the best Nike commercial in its 50-year history.
“You can’t stop us” is the ad that Nike launched with the will to return to normal after the pandemic. The brand launched a message of hope, unity and motivation and did it in a sublime way. With a montage edited to the millimeter, alternating images of amateur athletes and elite professionals, he achieved an effect never seen before in an advertising campaign. And that is how Nike has been in its 50-year history, a brand that has set and continues to set the pace in advertising.Watch You can’t stop us advert review
Bonus: “Seen It All”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand, Spike Lee returned to recover the character of Mars in a dialectical battle reminiscent of the one with Michael Jordan in which he reminded him that “It’s Gotta Be The Shoes”. The filmmaker represents the past with an eye on the future and the new generations, represented by Zimmie.
Watch | Youtube