The Ad: Nike India’s latest from the Just Do It stable is a salute to female sports in India. Directed by Frenchman François Rousselet, the ad film doubling up as a music video of sorts is set to an anthem created by Gener8ion, featuring American rapper Gizzle. The film recognises sports such as squash, cricket, football, surfing, basketball, running, boxing, badminton, hockey and even dancing (Sean Paul’s We Be Burnin’ choreography and mise-en-scène is not lost on us). And well, it also features Bollywood star Deepika Padukone.
There is a rare set of brands across the world whose advertising is eagerly awaited by consumers. Nike is a part of that set. And with the Da Da Ding ad, it delivers on the awesome. The music certainly works, the energy and the pace work. Sportswomen putting in their inspiring stories behind a brand is a surefire winning formula. But on the flip side, this one makes the consumer feel apologetic about not knowing the athletes in the film. Most media reports are going with the headline, ‘Nike ad featuring Deepika Padukone’ which may not be a fair way to represent this attempt. Recently we saw Reebok’s Be More Human ad featuring Kangana Ranaut — not terribly creative, but it utilised a female brand ambassador well. Not addressing the female TG, clearly, is something sporting brands can’t afford to do anymore. Nike’s assumption about the Indian audience being well-versed with non-cricketing sports, knowing that those sports/ sports personalities are just about picking up mainstream popularity in the nation, can be misinterpreted as communication arrogance — which is not something the brand is known for. Supers, a common advertising tool, would have helped greatly in detailing out the sportswomen and their stories. Many on social media are clueless that the ladies in the ad are not models, but actual sportswomen.
It defeats the purpose when the conversation starts revolving around an actor (Padukone, admittedly an ex-sportswoman). Surely, all the sportswomen among themselves carry enough of inspiration to not need a celebrity. A good portion of Nike’s work internationally that features sporting heavyweights, irrespective of gender, is based completely on the personalities — not leaving it up to the audience to figure it out— and building the message from there on. Does that then mean that there are rungs to the popularity of sporting personalities, at least in India, that Nike is having to choose from? Household names such as Sania Mirza, Sania Nehwal, Mary Kom etc versus the ladies we see in the ad — the ones the consumers require education about. Worth a thought. The music is a big hit and a trigger for shares coupled with the stylised treatment that lends the international feel to the film. It’s the kind of film that tells you that Indian women and an array of sports have arrived — and we are not just about cricket.