By Malay Desai
A new web film by Nike India a month before the Rio Olympics 2016 features actor Deepika Padukone and 10 women athletes. Set to a catchy rap by ‘Gener8ion’, the three-minute film shows the girls waking up in cities and towns across India and working out. Through the film, the locations, outfits, activities and tempo of the music changes while a regular sight of Nike apparel and accessories remains constant. The ad was posted by Deepika on her Facebook page and has been discussed across the world.
Arguably the greatest brand in the world, Nike, goes long back with its agency Wieden+Kennedy. All of its eight global offices work on the brand’s campaigns, many of the big ones arriving before a major sporting event. In this space, we have already featured outstanding works by W+K eight times, and this ninth one is special. Special because a) the ad marks the agency’s Delhi office’s debut and b) it has put forth powerful, super-fit Indian women for the world to gawk at.
The film is straight out of the trusted Nike box and it ticks off all the boxes while at that – catchy music, crazed athletes jumping around in non-athlete locations, lingering shots of the famous swoosh and other branding elements and overall bad-assery. Pick any big Nike film from the past decade and you’ll find all these elements – such as the unofficial 2014 FIFA World Cup film or the evergreen favourite – the Nike Cricket film with boys playing over buses. How’s this film different? Well, the ace play here is, the film isn’t saying so, it’s all in the timing and treatment.
Every Olympics from 2002 have been bigger and better for India, so 2016 is a big deal. With a month to go, there is enough buzz about our athletes making their journey down to Brazil in the hope of a medal – Dipa Karmakar, Garima Chaudhary, Mary Kom and Saina are household names but they don't feature here. The girls sweating it out along with Deepika are achievers from across sports.
Which brings me to my biggest problem behind this stunning effort – why not care to name the girls? How many of the 10 athletes can the lay Indian name? Barely even one or two. Why, I was myself not sure of even five of these girls’ names and I’m a sports writer. I’m not sure those in the media would care to look beyond Deepika, which is kind of the point here.
So to do the due, here are the names of the super girls in the Nike ad: Joshna Chinappa (squash), Rani Rampal (hockey), Ishita Malviya (surfing), Jyoti Burrett (football), Tanvie Hans (football), Harmanpreet Kaur (cricket), Smriti Mandhana (cricket), Shubhlakshmi Sharma (cricket), Shweta Hakke (sprinting).
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