International women’s day is just around the corner (March 8th), therefore we wanted to explore one of the most recent and most powerful pieces of corporate responsibility that has been released to help empower women.
For the 30th anniversary of the Just Do It campaign, Nike released it’s Dream Crazy advert with Colin Kaepernick. This was already an outstanding piece of advertisement used to have a social impact. However, this was just phase one of their newest CSR strategy. During the Academy Awards Nike air phase two, Dream Crazier with Serena Williams.
About the Dream Crazier Ad
This 90-second advert tackles the gender bias women have received in sports as well as life. The video begins with a close up of a female sportsman crying and then the voice-over of Serena Williams begins.
“If we show emotion we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us, and if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy.”
Throughout the advert, women from all over the world and from different sports are shown acting ‘crazy’, practising their sport and winning/succeeding at events. The women involved include gymnast Simone Biles, hijab-wearing fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, snowboarder Chloe Kim, members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, 15-year-old female football player Sam Gordon and 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya.
All these women have defeated the odds whilst being called ‘crazy’. Each of them has battled to get to where they are today and each has faced controversy. Which makes Serena Williams a perfect spokesperson for them.
The advert ended with Williams saying “Show them what crazy can do”.
The History of ‘Crazy’ Women
This is one of the earliest terms that were given to women to degrade them. The word ‘Hysteria’ even derives from the Greek word ‘Hystera’, which means womb. Hysteria first came to the English language as a way to describe only women as a mental health condition.
Even Charles Dickens tried to have his wife imprisoned to an asylum so he could continue an affair! Anything that was considered unacceptable by the ‘man’ was enough to diagnose a woman with hysteria.
It wasn’t until the 1890s that imprisonment of women for hysteria was stopped with the suffrage movement. But the word became even more popular, as these women began pushes boundaries; demanding entry to university, public speaking and as the video shows, a woman running a marathon.
From then on, the word has continued to be used against women.
The Women Featured in Nike – Dream Crazier
Nike has had a long relationship with Serena Williams, having signed their first endorsement contract in 2003. This along with, as the New York Times said “There is probably no better woman than Serena Williams to lead the charge of reclaiming the word “crazy.”
Serena has fought many battles over the years. In 2018 she was given a point penalty after she smashed her racket against the ground. By standing her ground, as she believes that the umpire would have treated a male player the same, she called him a thief. In retaliation, the umpire then docked her an entire game. He said the comment amounted to verbal abuse, although I’m sure we can all agree, we have heard male players call the umpires much worse.
Only a month earlier, at the French Open, Serena Williams wore a black catsuit onto the court. The suit was designed by Nike to help with her blood clots, which she had been getting after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis. She said that she felt like a superhero in the attire, and I couldn’t agree more. However, the French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli disagreed. He said in a statement that the outfit will not be allowed back on the courts and has now in fact been banned.
As well as Serena Williams being a part of the everyday sexism that happens on and off the court, she has also been a leader in discussing the topics. She has been a voice throughout the talks and has even been the one to start many needed discussions. Within the video there is a part dedicated to her “Winning 23 grand slams, having a baby and then coming back for more”. This makes Williams a great choice for the voice-over for this piece.
Caster Semenya has been battling the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) over the currently ruling of high, and yet natural, levels of testosterone in female athletes. The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has set a deadline of March 26th to decide whether Semenya and others like her, will be able to compete in championships.
Semenya is a two-time gold medalist from South Africa, who is also hyperandrogenic. This is a medical condition which is having the excess levels of the male sex hormones such as testosterone. Many people believe it is therefore unfair for Semenya to compete against other women.
With this advert, Nike has shown their support for her and her battle with the IAAF. Williams says “When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us” over the top of Semenya racing ahead of her competition.
Ibtihaj Muhammad became their first American to compete in a hijab as well as the first Muslim-American to win a medal. She has inspired so many women as well as breaking barriers to allows others to pursue. However, it wasn’t easy for her. Muhammad has opened up about the mistreatment and discrimination she received from others all around her, including her own teammates.
To truly help people understand why it was so important to her, and to show what she had to go through to finally be accepted, Muhammed has released a book on her experiences.
So many amazing women were featured in the Nike Dream Crazier advert. There is Simone Biles – the 21-year-old gold medal gymnast, Chloe Kim – the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal, Lisa Leslie – WNBA basketball star turned coach and Becky Hammon – The assistant coach for the men’s San Antonio Spurs basketball team, Marlen Esparza, Simone Manuel and Tatyana McFadden. The advert also features young girls who will grow up to be amazing women; Sam Gordon – 15-year-old football player who started getting noticed for her skills at aged 9, Sky Brown – 10-year-old skateboarder who was the youngest athlete to compete at the 2016 Vans US Open and Olivia Moultrie – 13-year-old who according to Nike is the “first girl in the history of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to compete for full-time against boys.”
This advert is truly inspiring and a fantastic start to International Women’s Day. Nike is using its platform to stand up for what they believe in. Their corporate responsibility is growing to a new level and is having an larger effect on the world. And this is becoming a must-have for all business. If you want to get noticed and for your customers to stay with you, making a political stand, big or small, could make the difference.