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Presenting Nike's Olympics Ad That's Not an Olympics Ad

Nike’s thinly veiled campaign artfully dodges the insanely rigorous requirements of the London 2012 Olympics brand police with a bit of locational wordplay.

It’s an inspirational theme that’s always worth revisiting: the unsung heroics of the everyday athlete. But brands best be careful right about now not to draw a line between that classic theme and a certain classic sporting event happening in Blighty.

Nike’s video campaign "Find Your Greatness" showcases all the little leaguers, backyard champions, and living room gymnasts doing what they do for the love of sport with no expectations of being exalted on high and showered with accolades in the form of lucrative endorsements. Stop it right there and you’d have your standard fare of that hallmark "Just Do It" motivation—but in a brilliant show of ambush marketing, these ordinary paragons of perseverance aren’t giving it their all just anywhere—they’re in London, Norway; London, Ohio; Little London, Jamaica; Small London, Nigeria…get it?

Given the ongoing brouhaha involving the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) policing all Olympics-like advertisements that don’t fall within their stringent codes of compliance and also the breakout of Brandalism across the U.K., Nike’s campaign is a welcomed addition to the conversation, deftly coasting through the minefield of no-nos (and sweet baby J is it one complex piece of work) and delivering an equivocal spot that’s just as stirring as it is sly.

Oh, and "Find Your Greatness" was created by Wieden+Kennedy Portland—the same agency responsible for the string of ads from Procter & Gamble, an official sponsor of the Olympic games.

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  • Patti Whitaker

    I am from a small town in Oklahoma.  I am on the Board of Directors for our Humane Society, Stephens County Humane Society.  We have so many animals that are stray, surrendered, etc.  Many abused.  Some from puppy mills.  We would love to partner with you as you run your miles.  Maybe we could have a pledge to our SCHS for every mile you and your followers run.  We are just an ordinary town like yours with ordinary animals that need love and support too….

  • Hash Milhan

    "Soon we will presumably see the advent of Olympic ambush marketing where the likes of Nike (never actually sponsors) unleash massive campaigns that position themselves as the ‘true’ sponsors of real sport to ensure that any victory Adidas might claim is merely phyrric."—Johnson Banks