The Cannes Lions award for best of influencer marketing went to a UK-focused Nike campaign that inspired confidence in the capital’s youth.
Nike wanted to reaffirm its place with young Londoners. Create a deeper connection with them and talk to them authentically and meaningfully, on their level, through the power of sport.
Kids in London are faced with impossibly high pressures and expectations to succeed – to be seen as popular, stylish, “cool” (whatever that is). At a time when many brands were feeding into their insecurities, promoting style, swag and big celebrities as a way to achieve it. Nike knew they had a harder challenge, but a more rewarding one – to inspire the inner athlete within every youth through the entertaining, empowering, confidence-building ability of sport.
The brand wanted to build salience for Nike amongst London’s youth through the power of sport and lead kids to play sport in London.
Nike also wanted to make something London could be proud of (at a time when the city was hurting from terrorist attacks, political issues and tragedies)
The sportswear giant discovered something special in London’s youth – in a city that challenges you every day, these kids don’t wilt, they use those challenges to become better. They’re determined to achieve the grand ambitions they’ve built for themselves and they do so with the same resilient mindset and swagger that you usually only find in elite athletes.
Instead of doing a big any-market campaign, focusing on star international athletes, we flipped the traditional sports ad model and made London kids the heroes. And in turn, our grand ambition turned from making elite athletes look like Gods, to making everyday London kids feel untouchable.
The agency Wieden + Kennedy went deep into London to understand what it’s really like to be an athlete in this city. We found some incredible kids who don’t boast about how good they have it, they boast about how hard they have it, because that’s what makes them tougher.
Many Inspiring success stories from these events – e.g. a 15 year old from Grenfell Tower had unbelievable natural talent for rowing – now on a scholarship training program.
The target audience of London’s youth revolves around social, so the brand launched a 3 minute London epic through the youth, to the youth, on Instagram. On the day schools broke for half term, grime legend Skepta posted the opening scene of the film on Instagram, complaining about having to cycle somewhere. Chris – a regular kid – replied to Skepta blasting him for being lazy! This kickstarted a battle of one-downmanship across London as one kid at a time commented on the previous one’s post with a film of their sporting hardship.
Once this social media battle had rolled out and kids were engaged on Instagram, the sum of the parts came together when the full film launched and hit #1 on YouTube. It was followed by influencer led ‘swipe up’ Instagram Stories, bespoke GIFs in Giphy and Snapchat stickers, all designed to reach and engage with the youth in LondonFrom the bad weather, to controlling parents, to a sexist society, every kid in London has struggles. But rather than complaining about them, young Londoners use their hardships as fuel. An epic, social first, multi-platform, tale of one-downmanship, where kids outboast one another about how tough they have it, ‘Nothing Beats A Londoner’ aimed to capture young London authentically; real kids, real language, true stories, cult locations and a supporting cast made up of London’s most influential sporting and cultural figures.
The idea was to raise up the youth of London and make them feel like the sporting heroes they idolise. A world first blend between social media and film then saw the youth launch the campaign through their own Instagram channels. It proves the power of authenticity, getting under the skin of your audience and working with them to create work they want to engage with and share organically.
- Phenomenal response, including the Mayor of London, Drake and many other celebrities sharing organically.
Trending #1 on YouTube.
- 9 million views of the full film on YouTube with over 18,000 comments (way above average).
- Organic Twitter moment.
- Over 171,000 click-throughs.
- 150+ pieces of media coverage, including publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, The Sun, BBC, Grime Daily, ITV etc. Many saying it was one of Nike’s all time best pieces.
- Inspired numerous parodies – Nothing Beats a Birminghamer, A Manc, A Sailor, etc.
- Countless kids reviewed the ad on their YouTube channels.
- Real kids on London’s streets using language from the film.
- Nike created over 10,000 opportunities to play sport.