Ad/Campaign: Nike Air Jordan XII ‘Frozen moment’

Agency: Wieden and Kennedy

Creatives: Kirk Gibbons and Jonathan Glazer (Director)

Creatives at Wieden and Kennedy must be the most fortunate in the business. Why? Because they just so happen to count the world’s most recognized sports brand NIKE amongst their prestigious roster of clients. This allows the kind of creative freedom that many other copy writers and art directors can only dream of. Nike is a brand that has the financial clout and iconic brand base that affords the creative teams at W&K the luxurious limits set only by the sky. Along with the Nike account comes so many elements that offer the creatives a chance to both flex their creative muscles and sell the product/brand effectively. When dealing with a sporting brand as renowned as Nike you automatically take on its ‘baggage’ of being a respected, quality and iconic presence across a vast number of sports. Not a bad base from which to build your Ad. You also have another valuable commodity at your disposal. Sporting personalities under the Nike Banner that span across pretty much every sport thats worth mentioning. These sports stars are the closest thing to super humans we have here in the real world. Whatever they’re tagged as, heroes, icons, role models, they are inspirational to children and adults alike.  This opens the arena of creativity up to the fantastical and Nike has the budget to realize a creative’s vision whether he wants his sporting ‘super hero’ to fly through the air or slow down time.

So you have you action aspect of the Ad but what about its beating heart? The love, the pain, the joy, the anger, the intimate emotion thats going to drive your Ad right into the consumer’s consciousness? This is a sports brand we’re talking about and with sports come a hole host of emotions. Whether its loyalty to a team or the heart ache of a loss, sport is a fantastic theatre that wears its heart on its sleeve. Just another example of Nike’s emotional ‘baggage’ that comes pre installed. The nostalgic twang that everyone has when remembering, participating or spectating a sport.

So thats your Ad’s action and emotional bond already accounted for, now it needs a narrative idea to work off of.

Nike’s plethora of great Ads are too varied to name them all but this is my favourrite. 1996’s ‘Frozen moment’ commercial for the Air Jordan XII sneaker combines all the a fore mentioned elements to create a stunningly beautiful Ad. Its just 30 seconds long, has no voice over and no slogans. No explanation. Just a flash of the JUMPMAN logo for a split second at the Ad’s close. Thats all it needs. The emotional punch that is packed into that 30 seconds tells a story that words can’t. But here goes…

First off it features arguably the greatest, most recognized, incomparable, imitated but never bettered athlete and icon of a generation Michael Jordan. Because of his place in the hearts of millions, the product is as good as sold already.

People can identify with the concept that when the ball is in Mike’s hands the world stops and takes notice. The Ad is about poetry in motion, a beauty the whole world can aspire to. People stop in their tracks, the innocent eyes of children stare motionless, awestruck at what they are witnessing. The innocence of youth regarding a beautiful event for the first time is key here and is massively aided by a lone child’s voice, a beautiful piece of music appropriately called ‘Hope’ taken from American composer Jonathan Elias’ ‘Prayer cycle’.

This voice accompanied by the visual of Mike gliding dream like through opposing players in slow motion guides us back to a time when we all thought we too could ‘be like Mike’ (as a previous campaign encouraged). A time when anything was possible and our wildest dreams were achievable. As we get a close up of the product itself, subconsciously we are lead to believe that by purchasing these sneakers we can all have the chance of being that much closer to our perception of perfection and of beauty.

Kirk Gibbons, the creative behind this masterpiece opted for beauty over flash and aggression, a combination all too tempting when dealing with a sports brand. Jonathan Glazor, director of such masterclasses in tension as ‘Sexy Beast’ and a little know Guinness Ad involving surfers (more on that later) deals with the subject matter delicately but potently (to quote Don Draper’s description of nostalgia) as well he should. A light touch is prescribed when dealing with people’s memories and with their dreams…


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