september

Although Nike’s “Why sport?” campaign broke during the Olympics, it “was never intended to be Olympics-specific,” says Hal Curtis, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. “It’s a brand campaign that examines how sport can make a difference in your life. We tried to dramatize that in memorable and unexpected ways.” Amen. You want memorable and unexpected? In “Horror,” distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton outpaces a chainsaw-wielding psychotic who is left wheezing and exhausted after chasing her. Why sport? “You’ll live longer.” Actually, this ad got whacked—NBC pulled the plug after viewers complained about perceived violence against women. “The controversy surprised us” is all Curtis would say. In “Elephant,” cyclist Lance Armstrong saves a dying circus pachyderm by administering mouth-to-trunk resuscitation. Why sport? “Healthy lungs.” “The elephant kept coughing up a weird snotlike substance and spewing it on Lance,” Curtis says. “He has lots of endurance, by the way.” In “Gladiator,” extreme skateboarder Neil Urwin is accosted by a man in a gladiator suit. “You might run into a gladiator” answers the ubiquitous question—and no one complained about perceived violence against men. What’s next? “We’re moving into production on another four spots,” Curtis says. “The next wave will air Thanksgiving weekend.”