Nike “Dreams Crazier” With New Campaign Ad

Jaclyn Narleski '20

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“If they want to call you crazy, fine.  Show them what crazy can do.”

With that, Serena Williams ends the new #DreamCrazier Nike ad with one last impactful statement, leaving even more of an impression on millions of people viewing the 2019 Oscars.  The ad featured several female athletes like Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, snowboarder Olivia Kim, and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad doing what they do best: competing.  Williams narrates in the background with statements regarding how women are viewed based of their actions. For example, she asserts, “When we stand for something, we’re unhinged.” Statements like this already stand out on their own, but why did this ad spike so much chatter across the Internet in the first place?


According to Nike, “Dream Crazier shines a spotlight on female athletes who have broken barriers” and “is the start of a celebration of women in sport” [1].  While recent trends like the #MeToo movement celebrate women and their ability to stand as an individual has been a focus for the past few years, women athletes have not specifically been brought to the table.  Despite making history with their demonstration of real athletic skill, Nike points out how women are put down for their passion and strength rather than honored. Williams, of course, can directly to relate to this for when she “experience a notorious backlash last summer when she had a public argument with a chair umpire at the U.S. Open” [2].  While such outbursts are accepted from male athletes, female emotions are “dramatic”, “delusional”, or “unhinged” as stated in the ad. “I feel like in sports women have always been taken as crazy,” says Noor Kaur ‘19, “That’s why we always have to work harder…which makes our success that much more satisfying.” Nike’s purpose of their ad was to showcase the obstacles women have to endure when men do not, which in turn makes “the glory and joy of success…that much sweeter.”


On the side of the opposite gender, the shaving brand Gillette recently released their own ad that also took the Internet by storm.  The “We Believe” commercial addresses the issue of toxic masculinity and its effect on men, including the result of sexual harassment.  It urges men “to act like role models and show younger children how to stand up to bad behavior and treat others with respect” [3]. Gillette received backlash after the ad’s release, as many men claimed it was “insulting” and “feminist propaganda” [3].  North America’s brand director, Pankaj Balla, says he expected some debate, but in the end, he made his message that “‘the enemy for all of us is inaction’” [3]. Matthew Luu ‘20 agrees with Balla, saying, “Although I’m not a feminist, I think that toxic masculinity is a very real thing, and it’s a problem that our generation can help prevent if we act.”


Both of these ads take on the greater issue of gender bias that impacts our society everyday.  They acknowledge the problem, and at the same time asks us to fix it. Nike urges women to “Dream Crazier” no matter what others say, while Gillette asks men to be “The Best Men Can Be”.  Yes, this overreaching issue generated publicity for both brands, yet it also tackles the bigger picture. These companies are putting media up on screen to demonstrate that change is needed, and needed desperately.  So will we continue to be the “best” people can be? Or will we dream crazy to find the balance of respect required in our society?