Nike Finally Gave Women's Soccer the Breathtaking Ad It Deserves

W+K crafts a Women's World Cup spot to rival the men's

Nike regularly creates stunning, minutes-long, internationally star-studded soccer commercials. For the men's game. 

The examples are legendary. Think, most famously, of "Write the Future." But also "Take It to the Next Level" or "Winner Stays" or "The Switch." The list goes on. The three-minute-plus men's soccer extravaganza has been a Nike art form for years. Meanwhile, at their moment to shine, the women get perfectly serviceable :60s.

Until now. 

On Saturday, during the Champions League final, Nike and Wieden + Kennedy Portland rolled out exactly the kind of rollicking, inspiring, creatively stunning three-minute soccer spot they're known for. And they did it for the Women's World Cup. 

It would be foolish to conflate creative equality in advertising with the pursuit of actual equality in the real world. Even so, the spot feels like a milestone. The creative hook, the global scope, the freewheeling atmosphere, the camerawork and editing, the delightful cameos—this is a barnburner from W+K, and such classic Nike. We didn't fully realize, until now, just how long we've been waiting to see it. 

The magnetic young star of the commercial is a 10-year-old Californian soccer player named Makena Cook (who happens to be wearing a limited-edition "Dream Further" jersey, which Nike says is the first-ever kids-only soccer shirt designed specifically for girls). Though just a youngster, Makena gets a trial-by-fire taste of the frenetic top level of the beautiful game thanks to an inspired creative idea that kicks the spot into high gear early on. 

At all major global soccer matches, it's tradition for the players to walk into the stadium holding hands with children. At the outset here, Makena is holding Lieke Martens' hand as they wait in the tunnel—and she's literally pulled into the action by the Dutch star (as the Netherlands play Nigeria) when the match begins. 

In classic Nike style, the spot, set to "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett, doesn't linger in any one place for long. In a flash, Makena finds herself in the thick of a game between England and South Korea. Then she's swept off to a photo shoot with Brazil's Andressa Alves. She gets immersed in all aspects of the modern game—media appearances and adoring fans included—and it's a hell of a ride throughout. 

François Rousselet of Prettybird, who also directed Nike's classic "Da Da Ding" spot from 2016—itself a three-minute epic about the unrelenting spirit of women, in that case focused on sports in India—keeps the pace hectic and fun. 

After a quick trip to China, Makena helps Alex Scott, former captain of England's women's team, manage Barcelona's men's club team (with cameos by Philippe Coutinho and Gerard Piqué—better known in some circles as the husband of Shakira).

And in one of the spot's more enjoyable showdowns, Brazilian men's superstar Neymar Jr. is seen playing a soccer video game against F2Tekkz—aka Donovan Hunt, the British teen esports phenom who's ranked No. 1 in the world at FIFA 19. (Neymar somehow beats him, 2-1, though F2Tekkz, in real life, is a huge Liverpool fan—so he's probably feeling just fine after this weekend's triumph over Tottenham.)

At the end, we get a glimpse of the U.S. team, including forward Crystal Dunn. By this time, Makena is an independent field player herself, no longer tethered to a mentor. (Her character arc, within the spectacle of the piece, adds gravitas and perfectly sets up the finale.) Our young heroine delivers a fantastic cross to the Australian star Sam Kerr, who slots it home. It may not be the kicker (actually, the header) that American fans would want, but that's part of the ad's charm—it doesn't pander to the U.S. whatsoever. 

After the score, there's a coda that wraps things up nicely. Makena raises her head, returning from a reverie. She's still in the tunnel—apparently this has all been a daydream. Still, she's inspired and confident—cocky, even—electrified by her vision. The dream has changed her, and now it's time to chase it. "Hey, you ready?" she says to Martens this time—the same line Martens says to her at the outset. This clever bookending of the spot caps it off beautifully. 

"Don't change your dream. Change the world," says the onscreen copy at the end. It's a nice evolution of Nike's ongoing "Dream Crazy" idea; a great hijacking of an event whose official sponsor is Adidas; and a very welcome ramping up of Nike's marketing around women. 

Let's hope it's a harbinger of even more real-world change as well. 

CREDITS

Client: Nike
Campaign: “Dream Further”
Clients:
Steph Derham
Andy Whiteside
Adam Roth
Gui Glezer
Amber Rushton
Phil Campbell

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Executive Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin, Jason Bagley
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Art Directors: Emma Barnett, Pedro Izique
Copywriter: Josh Bogdan
Art Director – Social: Naoki Ga
Copywriter – Social: Gus Solis
Head of Production: Matt Hunnicutt
Executive Producers: Jake Grand, Krystle Mortimore
Lead Producer: Katie McCain
Integrated Producer: Bob Guerrero
Producer: Amy Leach
Associate Producer: Candice Harbour
Production Coordinator: Shani Storey
Brand Management: Andre Gustavo, Kate Rutkowski, Steve Smith, Paanii Annan
Strategy: Andy Lindblade, Nathan Goldberg
Media Comms: Daniel Sheniak, Emily Graham, Stephanie Campbell
Sr. Business Affairs Manager: Maureen Doyle
Traffic: Maggie Harasyn, Sabrina Reddy
Executive Design Producer: Alicia Kuna
Design Producer: Michael Rosenau
Studio Designers: Jim Ward, Mitch Wilson
Retouching: Frazer Goodbody, Kyle Pero, Amy Ellars
Creative Operations Manager: Saba Spencer
Copyediting: James Yu

Production Company
Production Company: Prettybird
Director: Francois Rousselet
DP: Matias Boucard
Vice President, Executive Producer: Ali Brown
EP/Supervising Producer: Suzanne Hargrove
Director of Production: Tracy Hauser
Line Producer: Julie Sawyer
Production Designer: Nora Takacs (US), Laura Sabat (Barcelona)

Editorial
Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editors: Lauren Dellara (Anthem), Jamie Foord (Social)
Assistant Editors: Thomas Rickert, Patrick Tuck, Erin McCaffrey
Post Producer: Adam Parker, Catherine Liu
Post Executive Producer: Raná Martin
Head of Production: Dre Krichevsky
Managing Director: Eve Kornblum

VFX
VFX Company: The Mill
Creative Director: John Shirley
Chief Creative Officer: Phil Crowe
2D Lead Artist: John Shirley, James Allen, Andrew ‘Wood’ Barnsely, Roxy Zuckerman
Shoot Supervisor: John Shirly, Phil Crowe, Philip Maddock, Andrew ‘Barnsley’ Wood
Executive Producer: Anastasia Von Rahl
Senior Producer: Jacklyn Ramirez, Colin Oaten, Alexandra Paton
Producer: Mia Saunders, Goutham Hampankatta
Production Coordinator: Sean Tomek, Fyn Foo, Will Tyler
2D Artists: Evan Langley, Katerina Arroyo, Lenz Kol, Jeannie ‘Remedy” Hyungh, Tim Crabtree, Dag Ivarsoy, Abby Riegel, KaiChun Tsai, Kyle Maclachlan, Brett Lopinsky, Chris Hunsberger, Rodrigo Jimenez, Cris Kong, Stephen Holbrook, Venuprsath D, Badhrinath Chinimilli, Chanakya C, Inthuri Chandra Shekar, Jyoti Tiwari, Mayank Shekar Tiwari, Nehal Desai, Ramanjaneyulu Thota, Uday V, Yatin Tamhane, Mahesh Ravila, Rahul Bharadwaj, Sandeep Kumar Singh, Subodh Kumar, Rob Winfield, Nick Tayler
3D Artists: Freddy Parra, Lanli Su, Lalida Karnjanasirirat, Victor Duncan, Luis Sanchez, Matthew Choy, Matthew Bell, Melanie Okamura, Michael Lori, Danny Garcia, Elizabeth Hammer, Alice Panek, Nicola Gilbert, Ivor Griffin, Margaux Huneau, Ed Hicks, Andrew Bartholomew, Muralikrishna Reddy, Senthil Murugan Balasundaram, Dhanesh Sudhakaran, Lokesh Maddela, Loganathan P, Sanjey Arvindh, Yalamarthy Ganga Raju, Venugopal A, Abdul Rehman, Amit Patil, Arun Shah, Milan Dey, Asit Midya, Abhishek Kumar, Amritha Raajendher, Ayush Bajoria, Bharat Ediga, Bhavani Shankar, Ganesh Lamkhade, Giri Prasad S, Manoj Ravi, Rajan Ramakrishnan, Kapil Rana, Asit Midya, KiranPrabhu, Kanishk Chauhan, Ramesh Bandi, Shashi Kumar Dakoju
Matte Painting: Gillian George, Rasha Shalaby
Design: Justin Mays, Greg Rubner

Color
Color Company: The Mill
Colorist: Adam Scott
Color Executive Producer: Linda Jackson
Color Producer: Liza Kerlin
Production Coordinator: Jessica Amburgey
Color Assist: Logan Hghlen, Gemma Parr, Nate Seymour

Music
Artist: Joan Jett
Song: Bad Reputation
Artist: Jack White
Song: 7 Nation Army
Artist: CLiQ f/ Ms Banks and Alika
Song: Anything I Do
Music Supervision by Human
Senior Producer and Music Supervisor: Kamela Anderson
Executive Producer: Carol Dunn
Creative Lead: Craig DeLeon

Sound Design + Mix
Sound Design Company: Joint
Sound Designer: Noah Woodburn
Audio Assistant: Natalie Huizenga
Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

Behind The Scenes Content
Production Company: Stadium/Auditorium
Director: Monroe Alvarez
Executive Producer: Michael Bergin
Line Producer: Carlye Burke
Associate Producer: Diana Hidalgo Román
Cinematography: Samy Mosher & Eric Maldin
Photographers: Thierry Des Fontaines, Maria Montilla
Assistant Camera: Kiara Ramirez & Ksusha Genefeld
Production Sound: Daniela Fermín & Victoria Carrillo
Postproduction Sound: Dallas Taylor @ Defacto Sound
Production Assistants: Peter Hou & Christian Spencer
Editorial Company: Spotwelders
Editor: Paul Sabater
Post Producer: Jessica Davis
Color: Apache
Colorist: Arianna Shining Star
Original Music and Mix: Barking Owl
Creative Director: Kelly Bayett
Producer: Ashley Benton
Composers: Brian Canning / Ethan Walter
Mixer: AJ Murillo

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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