Two weeks ago, Nike launched "Play New," a global platform celebrating the transcendent, uplifting power of movement and fitness in surprising ways. The anthem film from Wieden + Kennedy Portland features elite athletes such as Sabrina Ionescu, Dina Asher-Smith and Blake Leeper failing miserably at unfamiliar sports, but having great fun and learning from the experience.
Now, such themes evolve in a long-form film starring Tu'Shea, a young, extremely likeable guy who grew up taking care of his mom in London. Tu'She feels he lacks self-confidence in some aspects of life, so Nike devised a challenge to help boost his courage, dispatching footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa, heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson and springboard coach Sam Buck to train the lad for a 10-meter dive into a public pool.
W+K London, Somesuch director Dan Emmerson and British broadcaster Channel 4 follow Tu'Shea's progress over a 30-day stretch in "New Heights," a 22-minute documentary airing on the All 4 platform.
It's all about metaphorical rebirth—water always suggests such tropes—with sports as a catalyst for growth and change.
A three-minute trailer hits some of the highlights:
It's no spoiler to say we know Tu'Shea's going to "Just do it," long before the film's conclusion. But that's really not the point. Nike's advertising these days (and to some extent, historically) equates journey and destination. The notion of "winning" as a matter of personal enlightenment and spiritual satisfaction feels in keeping with brand's long-standing ethos, and in step with life during Covid times, as folks seek new horizons.
Early in the film, one of the subject's mates proclaims, "If you don't like Tu'Shea, it's probably your fault." And that's true! Dude's a compelling character you can't help but root for. He's kind of cocky, but sometimes unsure—like all of us. In fact, Tu'Shea seem like a super guy who's overcome long odds and tries to do what's right. Now, he's willing to face his fears in an entirely new situation, with cameras rolling, to achieve something more.
This nicely encapsulates the "Play New" idea, which is about redefining sport for young people—suggesting it's not about performance but about breaking through the barriers that hold us back in life.
At the end of the doc, more than a year after most of the filming wrapped, Tu'Shea returns in a postscript, putting his experience in relatable perspective. That's a neat touch. It almost feels like a Zoom call from a friend, catching up with us and sharing some well-chosen words of inspiration.
Creative Director Paddy Treacy, Mark Shanley
Creatives Philippa Beaumont, Freddy Taylor, Darragh Carey, Andrew Bevan
Executive Creative Directors Tony Davidson, Iain Tait
Account Director Holly Baker-Cliff
Account Manager Matt Whiteside
Planning Director Brian Ritter
Comms Planning Director Martin Bassot
TV Producer Tom Dean
Design Director Aaron Skipper
Lead Designer Justin Hallstrom
Production Company W+K / Somesuch
Director Dan Emmerson
Series Producer Caroline Austin
Production Manager Laura Dixon
Director of Photography Spike Morris
Editorial Company Evolutions / Ten Three
Editor Sebastian Morrison / Stephen Dunne
VFX Company Evolutions
VFX Producer Kim Timmins / Stephen Morrison
Colourist Toby Tomkins @ Cheat
Sound Company 750mph
Sound Designer Sam Ashwell
Sound Producer Martin Critchley
Music Company Twenty Below
Music Supervisor / Producer Emily Pritchard