Nike’s “Dream Crazier” With Serena Williams

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If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional.” Serena Williams says in the ad “Dream Crazier”

Nike’s “Dream Crazier” ad wasn’t just a commercial, it was a voice for many who have been forced to stay silent. Narrated by the legendary Serena Williams, the ad tackled head-on the double standards women face, particularly in sports. But how did this powerful message come to life? Let’s start all the way from the beginning – who is Nike

We all know Nike but just to dust our memories, Nike is a global leader in athletic apparel and footwear and has a long history of creating inspiring and impactful video campaigns that resonate with athletes of all levels. In 2018, Nike released its “Dream Crazier” campaign, a powerful tribute to women in sports and celebrating their strength, determination, and resilience.

The Idea

When the idea was pitched to the ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy, knew they had something special. They compiled footage of iconic female athletes defying expectations, from Kathrine Switzer running the Boston Marathon to Lisa Leslie dunking a basketball. Serena’s voice, strong and unwavering, tied it all together.

“Dream Crazier” wasn’t just about celebrating achievement, it was about reclaiming the narrative. Words like “dramatic,” “hysterical,” and of course, “crazy” are often thrown at women who dare to be ambitious or express themselves. The ad flips the script, daring these women to wear the “crazy” label as a badge of honour.

The Execution

Nike unveiled this new 90-second commercial that tackles the gender bias women face at work and in life, featuring several prominent female athletes. Tennis star Serena Williams narrates the “Dream Crazier” ad, which debuted during Sunday night’s Academy Awards. The ad ran down a list of negative adjectives women sometimes encounter while showing footage of female sports figures giving their all.

“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Serena Williams says in the ad. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional.” “When we stand for something, we’re unhinged,” she continues. “When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational or just being crazy.”

Williams, who has faced her own share of sexism, then turns those put-downs on their head.

“So if they want to call you crazy, fine,” she declares. “Show them what crazy can do.”

The campaign’s central message, “You can’t stop us. We will run faster. We will jump higher. We will dream bigger,” challenged societal stereotypes and empowered women to pursue their ambitions without limitations.

The Results

The “Dream Crazier” campaign was a resounding success, achieving the following:

  • Over 100 million views on YouTube, making it one of Nike’s most successful video campaigns. 
  • Widespread social media engagement, with viewers sharing and commenting on the videos across various platforms. 
  • Numerous awards, including the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Film Craft and the Clio Award for Best Use of Social Media. 
  • Increased participation of girls in sports, with studies showing that the campaign led to a rise in girls’ interest in and participation in sports.

At the heart of the campaign, it told compelling stories of real women in sports, making it relatable and inspiring. By embracing storytelling, empowerment, diversity, and measurable impact, Nike effectively challenged stereotypes, inspired women, and contributed to a more inclusive and equitable sporting landscape.