In light of my renewed focus on writing about visual storytelling I’ll also be highlighting some campaigns by the big brands I hugely appreciate in this new series: Visual storytelling done right. The first entry in the series is the Equality campaign by the swoosh brand, Nike.
While I love sharing my own work, achievements and thinking, it is far more inspiring for both readers and myself to see some work made by the big firms, for the big brands. This recent campaign by Nike was created by W+K Portland. It focuses on taking the respect and equality that is nowadays found on the pitch and translating them off the field. Wieden + Kennedy puts it like this on their website:
Why are things different where we draw a few lines and place a goal at both ends? Equality, fairness, and mutual respect should live outside of strips of asphalt and patches of concrete.
The short features some superstars sponsored by Nike, including LeBron James, Serena Williams and Kevin Durant. One of the things I most loved about the clip is the heavy black and white look. It reminded me of this absolutely monumental video for Kendrick Lamar’s Alright, a work of art masterpiece offering sharp criticism of police violence against African Americans. Like Kendrick’s video, the Nike video presents a super moody and graphic view of an urban environment and also treats the subject of racial inequality and respect.
Nike’s message is a little more uplifting though: it states that the respect and equality found on pitches should be taken to the streets. The video presents viewers with a nifty way of visualising this taking it to the streets by literally painting these pitches on the streets. My favourite scene was actually four cars with wheels painted white, driving down a road with track athletes running in the freshly painted tracks. Very ingenious visuals with a strong message being served fresh right there.
This campaign and the video fit perfectly in a clever visual storytelling strategy. At no point does Nike force any of its products onto viewers and at no point does the brand itself take center stage. I’ve previously touched on this topic in the article about product placement in visual storytelling. Perhaps most importantly: Nike puts its money where its mouth is by contributing to several organisations that advance equality. By allowing their important message and their athletes to take center stage, Nike is able to create a very strong sentiment and will undoubtedly score sympathy points with viewers.