Nike’s new Jordan ad charts a young girl’s rise to sporting stardom
In 1984, Nike signed a deal with a young basketball player who had just started playing with the Chicago Bulls. His name was Michael Jordan, and he would go on to become one of the biggest sports stars of all time.
While the move marked the first time Nike had created a shoe specifically with one athlete in mind, it was a strategy that clearly paid off. Last year saw the brand’s Jordan offshoot bring in over $5 billion in revenue, while in 2020 the original Air Jordan 1s were sold at auction for a staggering $560,000.
As the real-life Jordan celebrates his 60th birthday in 2023, it’s also set to be a big year for Jordan Brand. Amazon’s upcoming film Air sees Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reunite as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro and co-founder Phil Knight, to tell the story of the game-changing partnership between the athlete and Nike’s basketball division.
To coincide with the birthday, Jordan Brand is also running a series of initiatives, including giving $2.3 million worth of community grant awards to 48 grassroots organisations across the US, which are helping to create more equitable futures for Black people.
The brand is also using its biggest stage of the year, the 23 NBA all-star weekend, to celebrate its values in the form of new campaign film, Beyond. Debuted during this year’s event, it is the brand’s first piece of work created with Uncommon Creative Studio.
At almost three minutes long, the emotive spot charts a young girl’s discovery of basketball and her rise to stardom, as told through a series of childhood flashbacks and sporting achievements.
Fittingly, it has been brought to life by an all-female creative team both in front and behind the lens. Aspiring baller Kamaya Jones plays the lead character, while it also features creative direction by Uncommon’s Sanam Petri, musical direction by Teyana Taylor, and the global debut of singer Kaelynn Hayes.
Having risen to fame on TikTok with her cover songs, Hayes repurposes the late Minnie Ripperton’s flower power anthem Les Fleur (which featured in the BBC’s ad celebrating women’s sport last summer) with the fitting lyrics: “Inside every woman there’s a seed of a flower.”
Agency: Uncommon Creative Studio
Creative Director: Sanam Petri
Musical Director: Teyana Taylor
Vocalist: Kaelynn Hayes
Production Company: Object & Animal
Director: Karim Huu Do