Athletes Gasp for Oxygen in Nike’s Dramatic Ode to Air

Celebrating the stuff you breathe, and the sneakers


Breathing. Everybody does it, but it’s especially important for athletes.

A new ad for Nike VaporMax Air sneakers features a mix of pro and amateur sports enthusiasts gasping for oxygen as they exert themselves.

The :60 starts out slow, as each person gears up for the task at hand—a sprint, a swim, a dead-lift, a penalty kick, a free throw and so forth. Before long, they are huffing and grunting as they push it a little further, a little harder. Eventually, they sigh—one last big exhale as they take in the cheers of the crowd—or just meet their own big goal.

“Air moves you,” reads the onscreen tagline. The brand’s VaporMax Air shoes bounce in the frame, as a jogger takes off down a damp street. Get it? They’re as good as the stuff that fills your lungs and oxygenates your blood, and they’re also named “Air.”

Wieden + Kennedy Portland created the spot. The better-known endorsers include track and field athlete Deajah Steve, NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo, pro surfer John John Florence, Paralympian and triathlete Sarah Reinertsen, and snowboarder Sani Alibabic.

The agency describes the ad as “an ode to the elemental force that pushes every athlete forward.”

Overall, the spot is plenty serviceable. As usual with W+K’s Nike commercials, the pacing of the dramatic build is perfect, and crescendoes to a clear point. The concept allows for clever use of sound design, which puts a fresh spin on the sports montage. And while the pun is a bit tough to swallow, not every ad can be pure poetry.

Sometimes the creatives have to, you know … just do it.

Client: Nike

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke, Chris Groom, Antony Goldstein
Creatives: Tim Arts, Stefan van den Boogaard
Head of Production: Matt Hunnicutt
Senir Producer: Erin Goodsell, Jake Grand
Producer: Mauricio Granado
Associate Producer: Emily Knight
Director of Business Affairs: Amber Lavender
Business Affairs Manager: Rylee Millerd
W+K Studio: Chris Streger
Creative Manager: Shannon Hutchinson
Account Team: Chris Willingham, Vanessa Miller, Anna Boteva, Simone Jackson
Media/Comms Team: Danny Sheniak, Reme DeBisschop, Emily Dalton, Stephanie Campbell, Graham Wallace
Strategy: Andy Lindblade, Henry Lambert
Traffic Team: Tim Bell, Maggie Harasyn

Production Company: Anonymous Content

Editorial: Joint Editorial
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith
Assistant Editor: Kristy Faris
Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy
Producer: Chris Girard

VFX Company: The Mill
Creative Director: Phil Crowe
2D Lead Artists: Chris Knight, Nick Tayler
3D Lead Artists: Michael Comly, Dam Waron
Post Executive Producer: Anastasia Von Rahl
VFX Producer: Andrew Gilson
Shoot Supervisoer: Chris Knight, Robert Sethi

Color Company: Company 3 New York
Colorist: Tom Poole
Producer: Alexandra Lubrano

Mix Company: Joint Editorial
Mixer: Noah Woodburn
Audio Assistant: Natalie Huizenga

Music Company: Walker
Composer: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Executive Producer: Sara Matarazzo

Motion Graphics Company: W+K

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@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.