Frantic sporting action set on an urban backdrop? Check. Inventive, slick production while not taking itself too seriously? Check. Superstar cameos? Check. You’ve guessed it, it’s the latest Nike commercial. But is “Nothing Beats a Londoner” their best ever?
Given the sporting giant’s elaborate back catalog of inspiring, creative ads, I understand that putting their latest commercial in the ball park of “best ever” may be hasty, but hear me out.
Like many Nike commercials, it is comprised of a montage of sporting endeavors across an urban landscape, all tied together with creative transitions. It has the same motivating message to the viewer as is the norm, but this one has its roots firmly set in the British capital.
And not just geographically, much of the humor and colloquialisms are directly targeted at Londoners, something that much of the London 2012 Olympic marketing across all of the major sporting brands failed with in my opinion.
From highlighting the lack of government funding for free-to-use sporting areas in the city, to the plights of the middle class rowers, “Nothing Beats a Londoner” is full of London-themed references that is grounded in reality, with the typical sprinkling of Nike sponsored superstar cameos (keep an eye out for soccer superstars Harry Kane and Eden Hazard, along with Olympic legend, Sir Mo Farah).
Fascinatingly, “Nothing Beats a Londoner” is directed by French collective Charles Brisgand, Clément Gallet, Léo Berne, and Raphaël Rodriguez, aka Megaforce. Kudos to these brilliant and creative directors for breathing a real sense of localism into a global brand.
In a 2013 interview with Dazed magazine, Megaforce gave an insight into their approach to commercial projects. The full interview is well worth a read but one of the interesting takeaways is their approach to the use of CGI. They’re certainly not afraid to use it, just look at how much is used in “Nothing Beats a Londoner,” but it’s only limited to when there is no other choice. In other words, they shoot live action as much as possible, then lean on CGI to elevate the work. This is a key lesson for any aspiring commercial filmmaker.
“Nothing Beats a Londoner” is a beautifully crafted piece of work that pokes its head above the forest of sporting commercials. It’s got all the makings of a typical slick Nike ad, but uses grounded, relatable references to the 8 million Londoners that most of the world probably won’t understand, and it’s this riskiness with what looks like an eye-watering budget that I take my hat off to. Who else but Nike?
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