Nike Looking for Greatness in Ordinary People and Places

Olympic-timed work, for once, is celeb-free

Nike is playing both sides of the field, to strain a metaphor, with its just-launched "Find Your Greatness" campaign from Wieden + Kennedy. The effort finds the global sports behemoth aligning itself with the "little guy" just in time for a big-bucks de facto Olympics campaign. Nike's not an official sponsor, but seeks to "subversively" ride the buzz of the London Games by focusing on everyday folks and local athletes of all ages and skill levels in less glamorous Londons—those in Ohio, Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Norway and elsewhere. Using the #FindYourGreatness hashtag, the company encourages regular Joes and Janes to share their experiences because, according to the voiceover, "Greatness is not in one special place, and it is not in one special person. Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it." That's a fine message, the work's compelling and well produced (which you'd expect from this agency-client team), and the Olympic poobahs are such self-righteous, cash-crazed cretins that I'm tempted to praise any and all efforts that skewer their endorsement-fueled pomposity. And yet, I just can't ignore the hypocrisy of Nike, which will spend $3.8 billion on star endorsements over the next five years, getting all aspirational and acting like an outsider when we all know it's one of the most bloated insiders of them all. The spot closes with a kid on a diving board. If he's one of the talented few who can set world records, Nike will offer him a lucrative landing. Otherwise, despite the feel-good imagery, the company surely doesn't care much for his personal triumphs or self-esteem. He'll sink or swim on his own.

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.