Today is Nike’s Air Max Day, celebrating the Hatfield-designed, Pompidou-inspired shoe that launched the run revolution.
Wieden+Kennedy created a spot for the Air Max line which aired March 26, 1987, during the Cosby Show. The ad, which was shot in black-and-white on a Super 8 handheld camera, featured shots of professional and “everyday” athletes, all set to the tune of “Revolution” by The Beatles.
The story of the use of that song in the ad (although it was actually Apple Records that sued, not the Beatles, who supported the use of the piece, nor the rights holders, from whom it was purchased legally). Hell, they might sue us if we link to it here, so go Google it and come back to this post.
It was a revolutionary ad for a revolutionary shoe, and we celebrate its legacy to this day.
A big part of advertising is leaving things on the cutting room floor. In the long run, you learn to justify the decision, live with it, or come to realize it was for the best.
Much of “The Baddest,” a Nike campaign in support of Kevin Durant’s seventh signature shoe, was shot in Memphis, Tennessee this past April. It only made sense to bring the music of that city into the mix. After all, nothing says bad like decades worth of Southern Soul, especially when so many of the musicians who helped create that sound are still working musicians in that city.
We made a pilgrimage to Royal Studios to cut a track with the legendary Hi Rhythm Section. We brought in Brooklyn-based vocalist Lee Fields to carry the lead on a song written for the campaign by William Bungeroth and Julie Nichols, arranged and stylized by Chicago’s J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound. That song—called “The Baddest”—was about the exact quality that makes Durant such a great basketball player and the musicians on the session such battled-tested pros.
We got to hang out at the studios, totally incognito, while the Hi Rhythm Section cut their demo of the track. And then we made another trip back for session with Fields, so we could film the proceedings and use bits of it in the spot. When we shipped in June, the spot had none of the footage and not a single second of music recorded at Royal.
The chance to record at Royal was life-affirming, life-altering, and everything in between. Although it didn’t work in the edit, we found a way you can hear it so that experience—and the music—don’t go to waste.
Written by William Bungeroth and Julie Nichols
Arrangement by J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound
Performed by Lee Fields
Performed by Hi Rhythm Section
Twenty five years ago this month, the first Nike “Just Do It” commercial, featuring 80-year-old Walt Stack, aired on television. Watch the ad and listen to Dan Wieden on the origin and inception of the famous phrase.
Wieden+Kennedy took home three Grand Prix trophies this week at the Cannes advertising festival, one for Old Spice in the film category, the other two for Nike in the cyber and integrated contests.
Nike ‘Chalkbot’ by Wieden+Kennedy Portland was awarded Cyber Lion Grand Prix in Interactive. The campaign was acclaimed as a prime example of two themes that emerged from the best work seen during the judging process: invisible technology and "real-time" interaction. The greatest innovations supported "this notion that technology will reach its peak when you don't even realize it's there," said Jury President Jeff Benjamin (of Crispin Porter Bogusky). "The stuff that was so innovative was the stuff that seemed magical. It had technology, but that's not what was showing."
The Nike's Livestrong campaign, of which Chalkbot was a part, took home the integrated Grand Prix. The campaign incorporated everything from events, outdoor, online, web films, and "Chalkbot”. "We saw brilliant work in every aspect of the campaign – print, broadband, an event and specifically Chalkbot, that in itself showed true innovation in numerous channels," said Jury President Bob Greenberg. "The execution was flawless in every way shape and form and we voted unanimously." And while "Chalkbot" has been the most celebrated aspect of the campaign so far, some jurors found the campaign's most brilliant component to be its opening gambit — Armstrong's decision to return to the Tour De France in the name of Livestrong.
"We have to look at that as part of the advertising," said juror Rob Reilly, CCO of Crispin, Porter & Bogusky. "That's where integration is going. It's not just another TV spot. His coming back was a calculated move to start this campaign. To me, that's the most important part. Chalkbot is an incredible tool, but the decision to come back in the first place, as a marketing idea, is brilliant."
The Grand Prix for film at this year's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival was awarded to a TV commercial for Old Spice, "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like", also by Wieden+Kennedy, Portland.
"It took an old, sleepy brand and woke it up, and overnight wove its way into popular culture," said jury President Mark Tutssel, global chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide. He noted that the commercial showed "the power of creativity to ignite a sleeping giant."