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#FairnessFirst: How Nike put purpose marketing on the podium with Caster Semenya

Nike's Dream Crazy campaign has won favour across the globe, having just scooped up top honours at the One Show Awards in New York. Caster Semenya, who features in the campaign, has also further proved her place on the winner podium.
A screen grab from Nike's ad, featuring Caster Semenya.
A screen grab from Nike's ad, featuring Caster Semenya.

Dream Crazy for Nike by Wieden+Kennedy Portland, with Park Pictures Los Angeles and Joint Portland, walked away from The One Club for Creativity’s Creative Week 2019 with The One Show 2019’s Best in Show honours, recognising the single most outstanding work entered this year.

It also took home the Gold One Show Cultural Driver Award.

The purpose of driving culture in advertising

This is a global accolade recognising influential ideas and executions that had a major impact in their respective cultures and environments and that exist outside the traditional categories of advertising and design.

Little wonder, as the campaign is said to drive commodity activism by tapping into the current culture of social activism, of standing up for what you believe in and proving you have what it takes to win.

Following on from the initial Dream Crazy ad, which featured now-iconic athletic underdogs Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams and our own 800-metre double Olympic champion Caster Semenya, Nike's Dream Crazier again tapped into the inclusion and equality mindset and shows that girls who want to play like boys need to dream crazier, while serving to destigmatise and reframe the world's interpretation of 'crazy'.

From ‘selling stuff’ to showing your brand humanity

It’s the same essence of brand humanity that made the Always #LikeAGirl ad such a success for turning stereotypes on their head, with the added call to be yourself and be proud – the time for fitting in boxes has passed.

That’s especially fitting for Semenya as The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) has finally ruled, but not in her favour. Instead, they said she will have to take medication to lower her testosterone levels if she wishes to continue competing internationally in running events.

The case has led to outrage about her basic human rights being violated, with Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa commenting:

You remain our golden girl. What you have done for our people and girls is enormous. You have flown our flag high. You have united a nation and inspired a rural girl. For that, we thank you Mokgadi.
Because ironically, just before the ruling, Semenya again proved her power by winning the Doha Diamond League 800m race.

The IAAF has since updated its standing to say “athletes like South Africa's Caster Semenya are welcome to enter men's events if they are not willing to take medicine to lower their testosterone levels”.

Celebrating differences rather than looking for sameness

Understandably, Semenya refuses this too and there’s more support for her than ever before.

Articles pointing out the ethical flaws in the ruling on intersex sport have been popping up the world over, with SA’s own Trevor Noah adding his views on The Daily Show, and The Washington Post asking: We celebrated Michael Phelps’s genetic differences. Why punish Caster Semenya for hers?

Why, indeed. Semenya herself has since said she’s willing to sacrifice her 800m world championship title in her fight against the landmark ruling against her on testosterone-reducing drugs.

There has also been a flurry of reshares of Nike’s ads supporting Semenya, in which she’s heard saying:

Will it be easier for you if I wasn't so fast? Will it be simpler if I stopped winning? Would you be more comfortable if I was less proud? That's too bad, because I was born to do this.
That’s the spirit that made Dream Crazy a winning campaign. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Rewatch the Caster Semenya Nike clip below.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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