Nike's 'Best Day Ever' in Sport Is a Tomorrow of Wonders

Where sneakers grow on trees, and every athlete is a work in progress

The best is yet to come. Nike puts a fresh spin on that old expression in a fantastical new "Play New" spot from Wieden + Kennedy, looking ahead to thrilling moments in pro sports and quieter but no less important ones for everyday athletes—conflating the two, as it's done for years, but in a way that's more explicit than ever about the value of sport to ordinary people.

There's also a lab where plants grow sneakers (which will be an interesting product development process); a nod to Naomi Osaka, press conferences and mental health; a well-timed shout-out to the WNBA; and a slew of pro athletes, from LeBron James to the wheelchair tennis champion Diede de Groot.

Best Day Ever | Nike

The ad, directed by Rick Famuyiwa of Superprime, is pretty cartoony in the style of most of the recent "Play New" spots. But despite its futuristic flourishes, the key message is that a better future is attainable, for all athletes, through the joy of movement and play.

DJ van Hameren, Nike's chief marketing officer and a former cyclist and speedskater himself, says Nike believes sport has the power to "inspire, create community and provide a platform for positive change," which are greater markers of success than winning and losing.

"For us, a successful result is also about what comes before, the invitation to pursue something you’re curious about, something that you just want to learn," says van Hameren. "That’s how I've always thought about the role of sport in life—it can be an amazing driver of progress, for individuals as well as within communities and society at large."

This macro view of what sports can offer has informed all the "Play New" efforts.

"I think of sport as a form of education," says van Hameren. "You’ll learn how to win, how to lose. But you’ll also learn how to connect. You’ll learn about yourself. You’ll learn what excites you, what interests you—and you’ll do it through multiple stages in life. It may not start with, 'I'm going to grow as a person because I'm doing this sport,' but one day you’ll inevitably look back at that experience, and see how you developed through the lessons you learned and the people you connected with. I know that’s true for me."

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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