APG-U.S. Account Planning Awards: Hoop Dreams

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Client: Nike
Teenage girls have reacted to the work by asking, “The Cougars are real, right?”
Last May, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners set out to develop a campaign for girls’ basketball that would represent Nike at its best: supporting athletes at the grassroots, celebrating the unsung heroes of sports, sharing in the passion of sports from the vantage point of the athlete. The emerging sport of women’s basketball, free of mega-contracts and superstardom, represented an opportunity for Nike to reconnect with consumers at the most pure level–rekindling the spirit on which the brand was founded and built.
Our objective was to position Nike at the heart of women’s basketball, sharing in the players’ passion for their game.
Planning had two challenges: First, bring the spirit of women’s basketball alive for our creatives. Second, prove the agency’s ability to capture an insider’s perspective of a sport at its highest level. With this in mind, we immersed ourselves in the lives of female high-school basketball players. We concentrated on elite-level teams, which led us to places like Shelbyville, Tenn., where the town’s welcome sign boasts: “Home of Shelby Horses and Girls’ High School Basketball Champions ’96, ’95, ’93…”
We were interested in the team dynamic, so we met girls with their teammates. Sitting on the floor of a basketball court or on benches in a locker room, we learned about the role of basketball in their lives as well as the many nuances–from their favorite moves, team rituals and superstitions to their lucky uniforms and best game stories–that made their experiences so special.
The result of our journey is not best captured in one defining insight. Rather, it was a symphony of insights that illuminated these girls’ lives, language, game and culture: the passion that drove them to exceed beyond their wildest expectations, the glue of their sisterhood, the pride with which they wore their uniforms, their sense of responsibility to perform, their desire to belong and be recognized as athletes. These truths became the core of our strategy.
We decided what better way to share in these players’ love for their sport than to celebrate a season of their lives. From this notion the Charlestown Cougars were born. “A Championship Season,” the documentary-style chronicle of a basketball team, answered the challenge posed in the main thought, “How much do you love basketball?” Each of the 10 commercials captures a moment of a season–from checking for your name on the team roster to conquering your long-time rival in the championship.
So accurately did the work reflect the team experience that teenage girls have consistently asked, “The Cougars are real, right?” This reflection of their reality successfully positioned Nike inside these athletes’ hearts, sharing and celebrating their passion for basketball. In so doing, another chapter of Nike’s long history of supporting women’s sports had been written.
Chris Zimmerman, U.S. Advertising Dir.
Nancy Monsarrat, Category Advertising Dir.
Erik Burbank, Category Advertising Man.

AGENCY: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Kelly Evans-Pfeifer, Account Planner
Rich Silverstein, Creative Dir.
Jon Soto, Art Dir.
Al Kelly, Copywriter
Brian Hurley, Account Dir.
Max Hergerman, Account Man.
Lyn Woodward, Ass’t. Account Man.