Nike ‘Play New’: celebrating sport fails

With people hesitant to get active and take up sports, Nike is trying to reframe perceptions around sport by shifting away from elite-athlete and tournament-focused narratives. Instead, it’s highlighting the fun and joyful aspects of sport with a campaign that celebrates failure.

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In late April 2021, Nike partnered with the UK’s Channel 4 to air a 20-minute documentary about the story of Tu’Shea, a Londoner who had grown up caring for his mum and was embarking on a 30-day challenge to dive from the ten-metre-high diving board. The documentary centres around the power that sports can have on self-confidence, as well as unpacking and exploring the negative impact that self-doubt can have on people’s mental health. Airing to much hype, the Nike ad is part of the brand’s ’Play New’ campaign, which invites people to re-engage with the power of sport and the positive role that it can have in our lives. Access to sport has typically been reserved for those with a natural talent for it and those from higher socio-economic backgrounds. [1] Due to this, many sports fans would rather connect with their favourite athletes through social media, with 54% of US sports viewers using the platform to get a peek into how their favourite players live. [2]