Nike challenges sporting stereotypes in new series of ads

The latest iterations of Wieden + Kennedy’s Play New campaign see the brand examine issues such as toxic masculinity and gender equality in sport (and life)

Nike made a splash last month with a refreshingly down to earth ad that emphasised the joy of taking part in sport – even if you’re a bit crap at it.

The spot was part of Play New, a larger campaign created by Wieden + Kennedy for the brand, which aims to find “joy in movement, play and competition”.

Now, Nike has dropped the next instalment of its campaign, in the form of films from not one but two of Wieden’s offices.

The first, from W+K London, stars a sinister-looking talking football, which reels off a playbook of macho clichés including ‘nice guys finish last’, before Manchester United player and activist Marcus Rashford makes an aptly timed appearance.

The second spot is by W+K Tokyo, and addresses the fact that Japan is currently ranked 123 out of 151 countries on the gender equality index. In sport, this manifests itself in it still being frowned upon for women to step into the sumo ring or return to sport after having a baby, among other things.

The broader Play New campaign signals a clear change of course for Nike into examining the wider social and emotional connections we have to sport. It is an approach that couldn’t come at better time, with a whole summer of sporting events ahead of us.