Nike and R/GA Shine a Light on the Tilted Playing Field Working Against Women in Soccer

'Before That' looks at the victories required just to get on the pitch

Nike and R/GA Buenos Aires trace back the countless challenges between young women and athletic success. Nike
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There’s plenty of attention and praise once you’re a winner in the sports world. But what happens along the way?

If you’re a woman or young girl playing soccer in South America, there are low-level wages, sub-par fields, exclusionary rules and, of course, critics, trolls and haters. With so much stacked against you, it might just seem insane to begin the journey at all.

To which the stars of Nike’s newest ad from R/GA Buenos Aires say, “Let’s show them what crazy can do.”

A continuation of sorts from the Serena Williams-narrated campaign celebrating female athletes that launched during the Oscar telecast earlier this year, “Before That” uses a reverse-chronology tactic to dig back into the steps it takes to become a champion.

Not surprisingly, that long list of qualities includes “inner strength,” thick skin, unwavering confidence, hard work and much more.

The anthemic ad is part of the brand’s lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in Paris in June, with the backdrop being not only the now-global TimesUp movement but also the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Team against the United States Soccer Federation. (Among their complaints: a massive pay gap between them and their far less successful male counterparts and inequities in equipment, travel, training and medical care).

“Before That,” which dovetails into Nike’s lightning-rod “Dream Crazy” campaign with Colin Kaepernick, tells the story of multiple women who “have to overcome daily barriers that shouldn’t exist,” says Mariano Jeger, vp and executive creative director at R/GA Buenos Aires. “The idea of this campaign is to inspire athletes to overcome these and other obstacles, showing how these girls have been doing it silently and with so much effort for so long.”

Argentine pro footballers Ruth Bravo, Estefania Banini and Belen Potassa star in the rallying-cry spot, as does Candelaria Cabrera, an 8-year-old girl from Chabas (Lionel Messi’s hometown) who has been fighting antiquated regulations that would’ve kept her off the pitch—there are no all-girl leagues in the region, and long-standing rules don’t allow mixed-gender children’s soccer teams.

The young left-back known as “Cande” continued playing, after some special dispensation from local soccer authorities. There’s also talk of forming a girl’s league. (Social media helped shine a light on that situation in Argentina and beyond, and footballers like Potassa and company got involved, hosting soccer clinics and workshops for girls in the area).

The campaign aligns with the iconic, 30-year-old slogan, “Just Do It,” which, according to the brand, “encourages all athletes to chase their dreams, even if they seem crazy.”

Agency: R/GA Buenos Aires
Client: Nike
SVP Managing Director SS LATAM: Bruno Rovagnati
VP Executive Creative Director SS LATAM: Mariano Jeger
Executive Client Services Director: Florencia Pereyra
Strategy Director: Florencia Leonetti
Group Creative Director: Diego Levi
Account Director: Sol Fraguio
Senior Strategist: Juan Linares
Senior Producer: María Paz Fonseca
Associate Creative Director: Andrés Juarez
Senior Copywriter: Ramiro Agulla
Senior Art Director: Matías Rojas
Senior Visual Designer: Pablo Maffezini
Visual Designer: Guadalupe González
Junior Visual Designer: Adela Posse
Executive Producer CS: Guillermina Ortíz Segui
Senior Producer CS: Gustavo Lugones
Producer CS: Melisa Cambre
Production company: Primo
Director: Julieta Cabrera
Executive Producer: Nicolás Pérez Veiga and Soledad Pérez Veiga
Producer: Germán Lentini
Director of Photography: Charly Ritter

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.