Nike hijacks Russian sport with ‘Don’t Ask’ campaign

Nike doesn’t sponsor the FIFA World Cup, so we don’t get to see what the brand might come up with to celebrate one of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

Instead, Nike — well practiced in circumventing FIFA rules — has created “Never Ask,” a series of films about athletes from Russia, where the 2018 tournament is based.

Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam’s campaign includes a spot about the host country’s best striker, Fyodor Smolov, and his journey from bench-warmer to leading goal scorer in the Russian national team.

Another ad addresses homophobia in Russia with a film about Aleksandr Maltsev, the country’s first and only professional synchronized swimmer, while the final film tackles disability with the help of Elena Fedoseeva, a blind runner.

As well as producing ads with a Russian theme, Nike has created a series of murals about Russian kids learning to play football, and made an action-packed film to share the results.

Meanwhile Nike are hoping to do well at Cannes this year, with W+K London’s Nothing Beats a Londoner, W+K Portland’s Breaking2 and W+K Amsterdam’s “Lioness” work all in the running for awards.

MAA creative score: 8

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.