Nike Writes an Ode to Mo Farah’s Smile and Sweat on the Eve of His Retirement

W+K adorns runner in the 'glory of the final mile'

Nike is celebrating Sir Mo Farah’s contributions, and sacrifice, with a powerful bit of poetry.

A new ad from Wieden + Kennedy London takes a look at the star runner’s grueling training program, pairing footage of ice baths and treadmill grimaces—familiar scenes in sports ads—with a fresh spoken-word piece (by London’s George the Poet), all paying homage to Farah’s illustrious career amid expectations that he will retire after the world championships now underway in London.

The minute-long spot opens with a shot of Farah’s beaming face.

“You smiled a smile that made it look easy—made people stop and stare,” says the voiceover, pointedly past tense. “The happiness you felt you gave it so freely. They would never guess what got you there. To be precise, I mean the sleepless nights, I mean the uphill struggle to the steepest heights.”

It’s not enough, though, to lionize the man, deserving as he is. Nike has to make its message useful to consumers, namely create a myth that everyday athletes can internalize (to be more like Mo). “And in that space of your lonely performance, suddenly you become your own reassurance,” continues the spot. “That’s when you realize you don’t need assurance, only endurance. You fought through the darkest hours of the night. So this is light work, the power is in the mind.”

To close, it returns to form. “Now you’re adorned in the glory of the final mile. And it’s all in the story behind your smile.”

While the rhyming couplets might risk being a little tedious, their content delivers well enough, and the overall arc is a characteristically pitch-perfect buildup to Nike’s classic tagline, bridging the gap between professional endorser and target amateur.

The mix of glowing praise, pop wisdom and visual testimony distill Farah’s eye-popping accomplishments into a minute-long, perfectly achievable goal, without seeming smirking or disrespectful. “Just do it,” reads the final on-screen copy—just become one of the greatest runners in world history.

Call it Nike’s zen koan—it’s a patently absurd argument … then again, at the end of the day, there’s really only one way to the top.

CREDITS
Client: Nike
Media Channels: Digital, VOD, Social, OOH
Clients: Philip Jacobson, Bradley Firth, Katie Franz
Markets: Western Europe

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Anders Stake, Adam Fish
Creatives: Tom Hall and Kate Baker
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Davidson, Iain Tait & Kim Papworth
Group Account Director: Ryan Fisher
Account Director: Sophy Woltman
Account Manager: Sophie Lake
Head of Planning: Paul Colman
Planner: Paula Bloodworth
TV Producer: Anna Neilson
TV Production Assistant: Iona Patterson

Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Mark Zibert
Executive Producer: Charlie Crompton / Orlando Wood
Line Producer: Sophie Hernandez Weldon
Director of Photography: Ross Giardina
Editorial Company: Final Cut
Editor: Dan Sherwen
VFX Company: Time Based Arts
VFX Supervisor: Jo Gutteridge / Tom Johnson
Sound Studio: Factory Studios
Sound Designer: Jack Hallett // Anthony Moore
Producer: Becky Bell
Music Company: Pitch & Sync
Executive Producer: Simon Robinson

Print Production:
Art Buyer: Maisie Willoughby
Photographer: Jamie Morgan
Production Company: Rosie Serlin Associates
Creatives : Tom Hall, Tom Bender & Kate Baker (Art Direction)
Freddy Taylor, Philippa Beaumont, Andrew Bevan (Copy)
Design: Ryan Teixeira,Tobias Bschorr
Artwork: David Brodie, Indy Basra
Retouching : Stanley’s