A 2-Person Agency You’ve Never Heard of Made Nike’s Stirring Women’s World Cup Ad

Thousands Creative doesn't even have a website

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

The U.S. women's soccer team has a roster of stand-out stars, but their individual strengths work best when they play as a team. That's the gist of a new, minute-long "American Woman" ad Nike launched as part of a bigger #NoMaybes campaign designed to elevate the team's profile during the FIFA Women's World Cup this week.

"We didn't want to go into this trying to make a women's spot—we wanted to make a soccer spot," said Michael McGrath, partner at Thousands Creative, the Portland, Ore., agency that created the ad.

Thousands Creative's own profile is getting a boost because of the work. The two-man shop was founded just a year ago by a pair of former Nike employees and currently has neither a website (just an empty Tumblr) nor publicly listed contact info.

But Thousands Creative has done work for Nike Golf and some sneakers, and later this summer it will launch the second version of Nike Golf's "Don't Sleep on Summer" campaign. (Wieden + Kennedy remains Nike's lead creative agency.)

The "American Woman" spot opens with individual shots of players like Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan mixed with images of younger girls struggling to practice.

When The Guess Who's classic "American Woman" kicks in, the women start practicing together. As expected, playing together turns all of the players into a synchronized crew.

While the camaraderie message on its own is strong, it's The Guess Who's soundtrack that really pulls the spot together.

"Strong alone. Unstoppable together," reads the tagline at the end.

The spot aims to give the U.S. women's soccer team the same prominence that the men's team enjoyed during last year's World Cup, said Thousands Creative partner Shamus Eaton. "We wanted to make a soccer spot that was strong and powerful and put women on the same plane as a lot of the World Cup spots featuring their male counterparts.

"It's born out of this insight that 'maybe' is a super-dangerous word—almost more dangerous than 'no,'" he said. "If you go in 100 percent and don't allow yourself the temptation of slacking off, that's the only route to go. We feel like these athletes totally embody that."

In addition to the film, Nike is pushing content tagged with the hashtag #NoMaybes on social media.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.