What makes Nike’s ‘You can’t stop us’ an editing marvel?

Nike has rolled out its third film under the ‘You can’t stop us’ campaign, which has gone massively viral, earning a lot of praise on social media. Conceptualised by Wieden+Kennedy, the film has garnered 16+ million views on YouTube alone, with many calling it the most successful commercial of 2020. The film celebrates sport as a source of inspiration.

The film has been narrated by Megan Rapinoe, an American professional soccer player, and features several other famous athletes such as Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and Kylian Mbappé, among others.

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Developed through research of more than 4,000 pieces of footage, the resulting montage underscores commonalities shared by athletes around the world. Its action shares a dynamic split screen series detailing 36 pairings of athletes and relating the kinetic movement of one sport to another.

Nike has shared a few facts about the film.

  • 24 sports represented
  • 53 athletes
  • 4,000 action sequences researched
  • 72 final sequences selected

Nike, in a statement issued, said, “Closed gyms and empty stadiums haven’t stopped athletes from pushing forward and using their platforms to help create change. Through those actions, sport shows us what an equal playing field looks like – and reminds us that a better future is possible.”

Megan Rapinoe, the narrator, is quoted as saying, “Players may be back on the pitch, but we are not going back to an old normal. We need to continue to reimagine this world and make it better. We have all these people in the streets, using their voices, and those voices are being heard. I ask people to be energised by this moment and not let up. I believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to advocate for change.”

Like any good piece of advertising, the film has sparked conversations on social media. Most have commended Nike’s initiative, effort and final output, but most of all, the awe-inspiring editing in merging two separate sports actions into one fluid motion in split screens.

Netizens had the following reactions to the films on social media platforms LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kristin Galluci said, “Nike's new ad is editing genius. I've watched a dozen times and I'm still in awe. "You Can't Stop Us" is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research and visual effects - 4000 sports action sequences reviewed, 72 selected and combined into 36 split-screen moments. The action seems to just meld into one. The goddess of Victory has done it again.”

Laurence Fishman said, “Oh Nike, you've done it again... This is mesmerizing.... Featuring some of the biggest names in #sport, behold, the debut of Nike’s third film - “You Can’t Stop Us”, a campaign crafted by Wieden & Kennedy. A beautifully edited story of hope and unity. The split screen magic, absolute genius. Dread to think how many hours it took to pick through thousands of video clips to find those that could work side by side...What do you think?”

Karthik Srinivasan, added here, “It is mesmerising to look at and that adds to the film’s already considerable charm! I suspect much of the massive views count is because of the repeat viewing caused by the astonishingly expert editing!”

However, the brand has not escaped political criticism for the ad. Few have pointed out the depiction of the burkha clad woman, who is skateboarding, transitioning to a person carrying a rainbow flag and termed it as “unacceptable”. Whether this will culminate into a larger blowback remains to be seen.

Overall, Nike’s ad film has created an impact and will be remembered as a memorable commercial that came out of the turmoil of 2020.


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