After months of yearning to see basketball players take the court again, NBA fanatics will finally get their wish when the sport returns tonight.
Coinciding with the NBA’s long-awaited return is the debut of Nike’s third film in its empowering “You Can’t Stop Us” campaign, which has fed fans’ and athletes’ craving for normalcy while also offering messages of hope, unity and encouragement to keep fit during quarantine.
Like the other two spots in the campaign, “You Can’t Stop Us,” which has the same name as the overall campaign, draws on the sense of community from being socially isolated during a global pandemic. However, unlike the other two spots, the third 1.5-minute video also touches on the feelings stirred by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.
Narrated by American soccer player Megan Rapinoe and produced by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, the film celebrates the comeback of sports and the innovation necessary to make that comeback possible during a viral outbreak. It also acknowledges the coming together of both fans and athletes to make meaningful social changes.
Every person throughout the spot shares a dynamic split-screen with another, visually connecting their movements, whether that be positioning for a sprint on the field, sanitizing stadium seats in full PPE garb or playing tennis at home.
Developed through research of over 4,000 pieces of footage, the resulting montage underscores commonalities shared by everyday and elite fitness enthusiasts around the world. Famous faces and clips featured throughout the video include basketball legend LeBron James (who narrated the second film in the Nike campaign series), tennis player Naomi Osaka, Kenyan long distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, South African Olympic gold medal winner Caster Semenya, Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, American tennis player Serena Williams, former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and French soccer player Kylian Mbappé.
“Closed gyms and empty stadiums haven’t stopped athletes from pushing forward and using their platforms to help create change,” a statement from the sports gear and apparel brand said regarding the spot. “Through those actions, sport shows us what an equal playing field looks like—and reminds us that a better future is possible.”
Since late May, Nike has been expressing its commitment to the “equal playing field” by donating $40 million to Black communities, promising better diversity and inclusion practices within the company and removing the former Washington Redskins’ products from its site.
Not all has been easy over at the Oregon-based company, however. Black Nike employees and their allies have been protesting consistently during lunchtime for the past couple of days. Per the protestors, Nike profits off of Black culture but does not support Black employees internally, despite what its diversity numbers indicate. Protestors told Adweek that the company has fired non-Black employees to make the number of Black employees seem higher to the public.
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