Who said esports isn't an actual sport? Nike has taken yet another bold step into the gaming world with the unveiling of its first-ever esports spot.
The Chinese ad arrives courtesy of agency Wieden + Kennedy, whose legendary working relationship with the Swoosh goes back nearly 40 years. In it, retired League of Legends superstar Uzi – who was the first-ever esports athlete to be signed by Nike – appears in holographic form while other gamers are put their paces at Camp Next Level, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle while putting in long hours. Nike and W+K have a long tradition of fun and intuitive campaigns that often shun individual products to deliver a bigger, more important message, and the recipe here doesn't deviate much.
“Our goal is to inspire gamers with a nonstop entertaining film,” said Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai creative director Jeff Fang. “We don’t want to preach. And most people don’t like to be told ‘go work out.’ But gamers are incredibly competitive. Top players put in 16-hour days, six days a week—which can take a massive toll on their body. We believe strengthening their bodies and minds can help take their game to the next level.”
In 2019, Uzi appeared in a Nike documentary that saw him go through a series of health tests at one of the brand's campuses (the results were not good, and aged 23, he retired from esports). In February that same year, Nike announced its partnership with the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), becoming the official shoe and clothing provider of the top online gaming league in China. adidas, PUMA, New Balance and K-Swiss are others to have made inroads into the esports industry, with China, in particular, seen as a big opportunity for growth.
Watch the new cut below.