Da Da Ding! Nike India celebrates fierce, female athleticism

Nike is causing waves in India with its latest ad, by presenting women in a way that commercials never have before

While this might sound absurd in the West, Indian advertising is still dominated by demure light-skinned women wondering how to get a stain off their son’s cricket whites. So if you’re a woman with aspirations other than home improvement, the ad space leaves you feeling grossly under-represented.

Then Nike came along and made this film featuring female athletes, doing what they do best – running, jumping, sweating, dancing, fighting, and screaming – all, of course, looking pretty damn good doing it. Since its release, Indian women have been applauding its ‘this could be me’ quality. Yet in characteristic Nike style the film also successfully presents athleticism as aspirational and sport as sexy.

Former badminton player and Bollywood actress Deepika Padrone for Nike
Former badminton player and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone in the ad
Still from the ad
Still from the ad

Unusually the spot features a mix of recognisable athletes – including national hockey player Rani Rampal, ex-badminton player Deepika Padukone, squash champion Joshna Chinnappa, surfer Ishita Malaviya and cricketer Harmanpreet Kaur – among others who are less celebrated in the Indian media.

W+K India, the agency behind it, says that the ad sets out to “embolden women to get out there and play more”. This call to play is a recurring theme in many of Nike’s ads for the Asian market where sport is seen as too masculine, not a viable career option, a waste of time, or simply an indulgence, depending on the market in question. Here the brand mixes the feel of a music video – the film is directed by François Rousselet, who has previously created promos for Kanye West and Justice – with a depiction of women unheard of in India’s previous advertising. If you’re a urban teenage Indian girl interested in kicking a ball or punching a bag, here are girls you can look up to… finally.

Credits:
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy India
ECDs: Kim Papworth, Susan Hoffman
Creative director: Mohamed Rizwan
Creatives: Ankita Tobit, Anyaa Dev
Production company: Division
Director: François Rousselet

More from CR

Artworker

NAO (National Audit Office)