How Nike’s “You Can’t Stop Sport” Could Soar Higher

Lots of COVID ads tell us “we’re better together,” but Nike’s “You Can’t Stop Sport” really scores.

Like many Nike ads, “You can’t stop sport” captures the spirit of perseverance that fuels athletes. But during COVID, it has a universal message because today, everyone—from elite athletes playing ball in empty stadiums to parents and kids playing ball in the driveway—needs to harness that tenacious spirit.

This message of triumph over adversity, combined with a highly distinctive visual device, used throughout the 90-second ad is what makes it break through. Using a split-screen visual device, one athlete competing on the left, flowing into another playing a different sport on the right, creates a virtual ballet of movement.

You can’t look away—we’re transfixed, anxiously waiting to see how each visual will unfold and resolve. With 36mm views on YouTube (even more than its groundbreaking 2018 Kaepernick spot) this new ad is both captivating and inspirational.

The question is whether it can drive revenue. Nike’s sales are down nearly forty percent in the quarter ending May 2020 and gains in e-commerce aren’t making up the difference. At Triggers®, we advise our clients that for advertising to drive growth, it needs to deliver on four key success factors:

  1. Tap into a deep insight
  2. Dramatize the benefit, not the insight
  3. Create distinctive visual assets that separate your brand from other competitors
  4. Communicate your brand’s expertise—what you do better than anyone else with precision

Nike’s ad does a great job of achieving numbers one and three. While this ad may not end up selling more sneakers, Nike’s message does fill us with hope as we dream of returning to the stadium, eating hot dogs and cheering on our team from the stands.