The New Nike Ad is Giving the World Goosebumps. It Deserves an Oscar


The New Nike Ad is Giving the World Goosebumps. It Deserves an Oscar

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

The power of sport to transport millions into a state of rapture defies description. In 2020, as the coronavirus deprived the world of the thrill of that indescribable elation, the loss was felt deeply. But the human instinct to root for the underdog, or support a team even after they lose a final – the same instinct that underpins so much of the drama in sports – tells us that hardships are in place for us to overcome. And that includes this pandemic. That’s the hopeful message conveyed by the latest Nike commercial, currently winning over the internet for masterful editing work as breathtaking as any comparable work in cinema.

Simply titled “You Can’t Stop Us”, the ad is not just a promotional video for a brand, but a stirring statement of intent for millions. Of course, the pandemic is the big, bad hurdle that needs to be overcome, but the ad also acknowledges sport’s radical ability to spark conversations and ignite change. A recent example, that’s also highlighted in the video, involves the kneeling protest of American football player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s decision to protest racial injustices in the US by kneeling during the national anthem while it was being played before matches in 2016 was a forerunner of the massive Black Lives Matter protests seen across the globe in 2020. Many other factors and activists contributed to raising awareness, but Kaepernick’s actions also revived the possibility that sport could be an agent of social change.

Change – for the better – is the underlying philosophy of “You Can’t Stop Us”. FIFA World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe’s voiceover promises, “We know things won’t always go our way, but whatever happens, we’ll find our way. And when things aren’t fair, we’ll come together for change.” Be it on the sporting fields of the world, or any other arena.

The ad is drawing almost universal praise, and for good reason. The internet is bowled over.

It also features the Indian women’s cricket team.

At a bleak time in history, a hopeful message is something everybody needs to hear.