Nike has released a new 90-second commercial on the enduring power of sports with messages of inclusiveness and perseverance at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellation or postponement of sporting events.
The themes include athletes’ relationship with social justice, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the long shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The video, "You Can't Stop Us," features a split-screen stitching together footage of athletes from various sports. It has been viewed millions of times since its launch on Thursday, reports CNN.
With Megan Rapinoe narrating, “You Can’t Stop Us” tells a powerful story about how sports will live on, no matter the circumstances, no matter the form they take.
"We're never alone, and that is our strength," says the ad's narrator, women's soccer star and equal-pay activist Rapinoe. "Because when we're doubted, we'll play as one. When we're held back, we'll go farther, and harder. If we're not taken seriously, we'll prove that wrong. And if we don't fit the sport, we'll change the sport."
The commercial, being hailed as an editing marvel, juxtaposes disabled and able-bodied athletes as well as male and female competitors in different sports. Throughout it, an athlete on one half of the screen mirrors another on the opposite side move-for-move, as if they are a single person.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the commercial is the seamless editing that shows how all sport is linked, and how similar all athletes are.
The ad also addresses the Covid-19 crisis, showing split-screen images of workers in hazmat suits spraying down stadium seats.
Although it has been well-received, some have characterised it as hypocritical, citing past critiques of Nike as a foreign "sweatshop" operator.
"No matter how bad it gets, we will always come back stronger," the Nike ad says in closing. "Because nothing can stop what we can do together."