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Nike’s ‘Jogger’ isn’t running alone

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest in advertising and promotions as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers. No agencies or products are endorsed.


USA TODAY‘s marketing reporter Bruce Horovitz looks at Madison Avenue’s use of obese people in advertisements as symbols of change. The story cites Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” ad that features Nathan running on a lonely country road as narrator Tom Hardy quietly assures us that greatness is not reserved for “the chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars.” According to the USA TODAY story, the other brands in following in Nike’s footsteps — so to speak — are Blue Cross Blue Shield and, of course, Subway, which is happy to celebrate Jared‘s 15 years of healthier eating.

From the USA TODAY story:

Why is it now acceptable to show obesity? “More of us are overweight, so it’s a shared problem,” says Valerie Folkes, marketing professor at University of Southern California.

But that’s only a small part of the reason it’s OK show obesity. A quote from Erich Joachimsthaler, a brand consultant, points out that the ads’ appeal is also rooted in a new generation — a generation where fat isn’t different and we’re all famous, even if for a little while.

From the story:

“The new generation doesn’t see (obese people) as different. There is a new, democratic world view: Everyone can be a star.”


With that casual acceptance in mind, we ask what’s the big deal? Well, society and the media tell us being obese is not OK, being overweight is not OK — it’s a constant message no matter how many times celebs tell us they like their weight gains or urge us to love ourselves just the way we are. But if we consider that in the calendar year 2009–2010, 35.7% of U.S. adults were obese, we understand exactly why brands are embracing obese people: They’re consumers, too, with discretionary dollars to spend. This isn’t about everyone loving everyone just the way they are; for better or for worse, featuring fat folks in ads is about sales — plain ol’ dollars and cents.

Quick facts about obesity from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention:

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
  • Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
  • Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.


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Nike ad team finds greatness with ‘Jogger’

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post reflects my interest as a marketing student in advertising and sports marketing. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers. No agencies or products are endorsed.


I’m reluctant to admit that I haven’t paid attention to the London 2012 Games, but I have found myself stopped, intrigued and inspired by Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” series.

UPDATED AUG. 5 Particularly powerful is “Jogger,” the spot where we meet Nathan on a lonely road in Ohio. He’s not blazing around a track, looking like a part-time movie star. He’s an overweight kid putting one foot in front of the other in an effort to make his life better, healthier. The one-minute-three-second spot is filmed in a single, unedited shot, and the narration (provided by actor Tom Hardy) is quiet, simple, effective. We’re not focused on the shoes, just the kid. And we’re not just focused, we’re transfixed. The commercial proves the power of simplicity as it touches the part of us that has felt like the chubby kid, the part of us that has buckled under the blanket of loneliness, the part of us that is struggling to be more than what we are now.

Somehow we’ve come to believe greatness is a gift, reserved for a chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars. And the rest of us can only stand by watching.
~ Narrator Tom Hardy,
Nike “Find Your Greatness” commercial, August 2012

“Jogger” was posted on Nike’s YouTube channel on July 31. At the time of this writing, it had 284,786 views, 3,867 likes and 57 dislikes. On Nike’s Facebook page, a photo of Nathan with a link to the video had garnered 36,742 likes, 2,804 shares, and 934 comments since it was posted July 31. It is just one of a much larger campaign that Nike launched to coincide with the opening of the London Games.

Greatness is no more unique to use than breathing. We’re all capable of it. All of us.
~ Narrator Tom Hardy,
Nike “Find Your Greatness” commercial, August 2012

For more on the narrator, please visit one of these fine sites: Tom Hardy Fan, Sport Wired or Exploring Tom Hardy.

AGENCY: W+K, the folks who brought you ESPNWatch’s “Paintings” commercial.