Crispin’s Debut for Nike (Mostly) Pleases

NEW YORK This 60-second Nike+ running spot, the first for the sneaker giant from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, holds surprises. It opens with a shot of a spectacularly accessorized caveman mid-stride; he seamlessly morphs into an ancient Roman, and then a Celtic queen charging into battle, with her screaming, spear-carrying troops behind her. I was expecting a Capital One’s “What’s in your wallet?” tagline. But the payoff turns out to be far better than that. As the troops transform into a single female Native American—wearing doeskin boots to silently chase deer in the forest—the time line concept, and ad’s broader meaning, start to hit home. From history’s earliest runners to modern man working out on a treadmill, the ad asks, simply, “Need motivation?” Certainly, this concept is so big, filmic and thought provoking, it seems positively Super Bowl-worthy. The Nike commercial we expect would end there. But there’s more. As the man on the treadmill slowly winds down, and the bass in the minimalist background music does likewise, a bunch of runners crash through the gym wall. A track from The Hives “Return the Favour” backs this pack of manic runners, all finding new motivation by wearing their Nike shoes, which can track their workouts via iPods. There’s a definite disconnect, like this part came from the infomercial—but still, it makes a serious point. This first salvo is definitely a look-up-and-pay-close attention experience, complete with Q&A. And it works.