By Malay Desai
From: Wieden + Kennedy, Canada
To mark the return of the National Hockey League (NHL) after a controversial lockout of four months, Nike Canada has picked professional stars and common folks to feature in a spot with all of them talking into the camera. Beginning with the question, ‘What are you going to do?’ each of them defiantly asks, ‘Take away my puck/stick/rink’ and so on, listing elements of the game. They then give alternatives of what they’ll do if their socks/gear.. even ‘Canada’ is taken away. The script voiced by vox pops eventually refers to playing hockey with whatever means and still calling it hockey.
Why we like
Pupils in Marketing schools, when dry of topics to give case studies upon, often put a finger on a Nike ad from any era or country to do the needful. While most campaigns do turn out to be academic treats, the fact that most of them are entrenched in the sub-culture they’ve been produced in, makes them effective too.
This spot isn’t another vanilla work showing Nike’s can-do spirit. It comes after weeks of uncertainty, cancellations and anger toward the NHL, the biggest Canadian league. The nation has seen many riots, the latest one in Vancouver as recently as July 2011. The league returned past weekend and while many fans are still angry at 82 games cut to 48, here’s a much-needed spot to get the blood running.
Mixing defiance with passion to create a pleasurable montage, this spot hits the right nerve; heck, we got it even if we’re miles away from being an ice hockey follower. In typical Nike style, the copy is the star here, the dialogues leading up to a powerful climax. ‘Take away everything, but we won’t stop’ is the underlying tone, and all sports fans worth their salt know this feeling. (Look up Amitabh Bachchan’s blog post about not leaving Mumbai in the face of anti- North Indian violence, it has a similar vibe!)
The sudden dash of humour in between the rebellion is a superb surprise. On the prospect of ‘moving to Russia’ if ‘Canada’ is taken away, the film cuts to a man saying ‘Smart thinking, kid’ in Russian. Neat goal! And while the ad comes in tumultuous times and will spark off arguments, points are due to Nike for appearing right at the root of the action.
Now the depressing bit. We don’t think such a tone would ever be used for any club-based game in India. How many of us protested when an IPL team was abruptly dropped and another (Royals) still faces uncertainty? How many would equate the game over the country? Truth is, we misplace nationalism for love of the game and have many other issues to riot about! Our sports ads would always be celebratory –caravans, games in traffic jams et al.
Watch the spot on vimeo.com/56498122