Nike’s latest commercial tracks the extraordinary career of tennis star Serena Williams from child prodigy to grand slam queen. The spot is part of Nike’s “Unlimited” series from Wieden & Kennedy and ends with the words “greatest athlete ever” – after removing the word ‘female’ from the on-screen copy.
The idea behind the commercial came from a media conference at Wimbledon in July. When Serena Williams was asked how felt about going down in the history books as “one of the greatest female athletes of all time.” She responded: “I prefer the words ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’ ”
Now, two months later, Nike uses that moment as inspiration for its 60-second spot, ‘Unlimited Greatness’ – a celebration of all that makes Williams great, timed with her appearance at the U.S. Open in New York.
As part of its ad campaign celebrating the star, Nike unveiled a simple yet spine-tingling video showing her path to winning 22 Grand Slam titles.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Williams, who missed five major tournaments from 2003 to 2006 because of injuries. Before winning the 2007 Australian Open, she went seven straight majors without reaching the quarterfinals.
She has since won a Grand Slam title in all but one year (2011), and she’s currently vying to break Steffi Graf’s Open-era record for Grand Slam wins at the U.S. Open. That feat puts her on a short list of candidates for greatest athlete ever
The spot is tracked by melodic piano music that changes tone as the ad moves through the different parts of Williams’ career. At the 28-second mark, the music shifts to lower, deeper keys as the video displays words like “injured,” “struggling” and “done” to mark the low points in Williams’ career.
The final third of the commercial ends on a high note, the piano returns to its uplifting and melodic form and the final frames include a pan of Williams’ face with the words “greatest female athlete ever.” Just as the words flash across the screen, a plot twist: The word “female” disappears from the screen and all that remains is “greatest athlete ever.”
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