I had very little interest in the Olympics this year. I didn’t even watch the opening ceremonies, and I can count on three fingers the number of events I ended up watching. One of them was the mem’s platform diving competition (which was incredible I must admit). Last night as part of my ongoing recovery from my post-vacation blues, I did end up catching the closing ceremonies and was mightily impressed. The three-hour show was packed tight with a cross section of British pop music from the past 50 years and by the end of it my jaw had fully dropped at the thought of how much the UK has contributed to modern music history — truly phenomenal (to read the Guardian’s glowing review of the closing show CLICK HERE). Of all the musical moments in the show, for some reason the Kate Bush white pyramid-building segment gave me the biggest goosebumps. Hearing and seeing a stadium filled with countless beating drummers banging away to “Running Up That Hill” while highlights of Olympic greatness played in slow motion in the background brought me to tears.
But what exactly is greatness? Is it something that one is blessed with genetically, or accumulates over a lifetime of good fortune and opportunities? I like to think neither. Greatness is something that can be activated in any human being no matter where they live or what circumstances surround them — and an Olympic podium is definitely not the peak of achieving this greatness. These peaks occur all around us in our everyday lives as well. This is the theme explored in NIKE’s incredible new ad unveiled during the Olympics entitled “Find Your Greatness”.
The ad opens with a low shot on a desert highway with the camera centered on the yellow line. As a runner far off in the distance begins to catch up to the camera, a voice begins recounting the philosophical underpinnings of greatness. Near the end of the ad, the runner gets close enough to the camera for the viewer to realize that the runner is, in fact, an overweight teenage boy. It is one of the most brilliant ads I have seen in quite some time, and as with any work of advertising genius, it is stirring up controversy that NIKE exploited this young boy’s obesity. I fully agree with advertising giant Donny Deutsch who, when asked by Matt Lauer about the controversy, replied with: “Bravo NIKE! And shame on anybody that has a problem with this ad.” Check out the brilliant NIKE ad below, as well as Matt Lauer’s interview with the young boy featured in the ad. And later today I am going to run up a dirt road of my own and listen to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” while searching for my own little bit of greatness.