Ad of the Day: Nike Football

Mark Romanek makes a potent argument for speed over strength in W+K's new spot

Fast is the new strong. The tortoise never wins.

Those are the key aphorisms—though not the only ones—to be gleaned from Nike Football's rugged, stylized, eye-catching new spot from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., which broke Thursday night during the NFL draft.

Football rules in America, and so football ads must rule over other sports ads. Nike ensures this by always bringing in the big guns. In this case, it's director Mark Romanek (who made Johnny Cash's "Hurt" video, among other well-known works, and has also done several Nike ads before) and editor Kirk Baxter (who happens to have won the past two Academy Awards for film editing—for David Fincher's The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Visually, it's expert stuff—clean and futuristic, set in a space-agey stadium tunnel, where the punchy narrative plays out in little malevolent vignettes and visions illustrating next-level speed, and how it beats strength every time. But despite the fancy visuals, it's the percussive copy that pushes the spot forward.

"This game is not fast. This game is faster," says the voiceover. "Strong is no longer strong. Fast is the new strong. Lungs are jet engines. End zones are scorched. The pocket is collapsing faster. The field just got shorter. The slow lose their lunch. The tortoise never wins. And if you're not faster, someone will let you know."

Of course the ad is filled with Nike athletes—Troy Polamalu, Calvin Johnson, Darrelle Revis, LeSean McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Alex Smith, Larry Fitzgerald and Marshawn Lynch. An NFL official, Mike Carey, gets a cameo. And then there's the tortoise and the hare—with Nike feeling confident enough to turn that old fable on its head.

Sports ads are mostly variations on a theme—bigger, stronger, faster, better. Given that sameness, the ads themselves are judged largely on those same criteria. Bigger, stronger and faster are better. You have to hand it to Nike. It always outmuscles its rivals. And of course it outruns them, too.


Client: Nike Football

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Production Company: Anonymous Content

Director: Mark Romanek

Editing Company: Rock Paper Scissors

Editor: Kirk Baxter