The Olympics is all about being inspired, and outside of the pool or the balance beam tonight, anyone watching got a heavy dose. It happened when a 12-year-old boy went running alone up a deserted road, staring straight in to the camera, with sweat dripping from his grey T-shirt. With all of the TV commercials trying their darndest to capture millions of viewers during the Olympic coverage, none has struck a chord the way Nike did in its true-to-form minimalist message.
The spot simply says “Find Your Greatness.” For Nathan, from London, Ohio, he does so every time he laces up those running shoes at dawn instead of sleeping in before school. Nathan’s greatness is in the strength he discovers he possesses at the end of each and every one of those runs.
The script for the ad reads:
It’s just something we made up.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few, for prodigies, for superstars, and the rest of us can only stand by watching.
You can forget that.
Greatness is not some rare DNA strand, not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.
We’re all capable of it. All of us.
Nike is no doubt taking advantage of a very alert television audience, but not as a sponsor. As AdAge.com points out, the fitness brand is not an official sponsor of the Games, but their well-timed and well-placed ads landed at the top of the Viral Chart for views, trailed by official sponsor Adidas at number three.
Without showing a single flag, a perfect breast stroke, or a tearful gold medal ceremony, Nike captured all of the emotion of the Games without having to write the sponsorship check.
The only thing we’d love more than this ad just the way it is, is to see the follow-up in a year when Nathan doesn’t just scoot up the road full of determination, but flies down that path burning holes in his well-worn Nikes as the fit kid he is becoming with each stride.
I don’t care who you are – seasoned runner, unfit mom, couch potato dad, self-conscious teen – that ad has to light a fire to get up and move, take care of yourself, make yourself a priority, and aspire to your own definition of greatness. Nathan already has. Will you?