A Nike ad first aired during the 2019 Oscars ceremony aims to undermine gender stereotypes in sport. Serena Williams provides the voice of the ad, breaking down every way in which women are disrespected and written off as athletes.
Showing emotions is crazy, wanting to compete against men is crazy, being angry is crazy – whatever female athletes dare to do is deemed crazy by others. The ad goes on to provide examples of ways in which women were called crazy and went on to shine – by joining a marathon that was supposed to be only for men; by winning 23 Grand Slams (as Williams did), have a child, and then return; by coaching an NBA team.
The ad ends with the suggestion that they “Show them what crazy can do.”
Nike’s ad continues a tradition of socially conscious advertising, the most recent example being the Colin Kaepernick ad campaign that stirred up controversy. The Serena Williams ad will likely be less controversial, but no less important.
Women have struggled to be taken seriously in sport for decades, and the largest sports company out there spending millions of dollars on an ad campaign in support of them sends an important signal.