Nike: 'Just Play It', anywhere, anytime

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 06, 2007
In the second Indian ad for Nike, JWT India has tried to capture the chaos of unorthodox gali cricket in an endearing manner

When three

immortal words - Just Do It - unite with the fanaticism of Indian cricket, all hell breaks loose.

In what is only the second Indian ad for international sports brand Nike (the first ad was more of a tactical one, and ran only for a short duration last year), JWT India has tried to capture this chaos in an endearing manner. Nike India forayed into cricket-oriented products recently, beginning with the Indian cricket team's jerseys and other gear.

"What Brazil is to football, India is to cricket," says Agnello Dias, or Aggie, senior vice-president and executive creative director, JWT. Obviously, there was no question of choosing any other sport for a Nike India-specific ad. To understand the origins of the ad, perhaps, the origins of Indian cricket need to be analysed. "Indian cricket has traditionally always been the 'kalakaar' or textbook cricket type," says Dias. But this character of the game changed when players such as Tendulkar, Sehwag and Ganguly entered the scene and didn't necessarily play 'correct' cricket; they played result-oriented cricket, which has its origins in the 'galis' of India.

A young cricketer surveys a traffic jam

Not bothered by the jam, a cricket match atop a bus is in full swing

Cricketers and commoners scramble to find the elusive ball

When the ball accidentally hurts the batsman, onlookers Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth are completely involved

The youngsters are ready to give up on the game as the jam recedes

However, one boy refuses to give up and bowls impromptu

Freeze shot of the boy, with Nike logo and super: 'Just Do It'
"If one truly wants to witness the spirit and passion of coarse Indian cricket, then it is not in plush stadiums," says Dias. "It is in the heartlands of India." In this cricket-crazy nation, one will find kids and young boys playing cricket on rooftops, terraces, 'galis' (small lanes), virtually anywhere. According to JWT executives, these young kids are not dissuaded by any obstacles and play cricket the way they want to.

Stemming from that insight, Dias, along with the team at JWT, Bangalore, conceptualised a TVC that is on air at the moment and will run through the upcoming ICC World Cup.

The ad opens on the shot of a traffic jam in a crowded Mumbai street; stuck in the jam is a bus full of 16-17 year old cricketers. Notwithstanding the jam, one of them leaps out onto the roof of the bus and, before you know it, a cricket match is on in full swing on top of the bus. In the classic 'gali' cricket way, one of the shots has the ball striking a dusty hoarding, another one, messing up an old man's daily cuppa. Watching the ball land in the hands of a young fellow in a nearby flat, the cricketers yell, 'Balcony, ball dena! (Hey you, in the balcony! Pass the cricket ball!)" The boy on the balcony jumps on to the cricketers' terrain and starts bowling ferociously.

As the batsman strikes ball after ball, all the cricketers get out of the bus, scrambling in a bid to catch the elusive ball. Soon, the bystanders get involved in the game, too. Stuck in the jam also are cricketers Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth, who, for once, don't join in the game, but simply watch the proceedings. An elephant picks up the ball with his trunk, men jump on to the tops of cars to catch the ball, people bump into each other and drop things, an old Parsi man's statue with his finger up acts as the umpire - all these form a part of the chaos that is the film. In conclusion, as the jam clears, the disappointed boys turn their backs on the game. But one of them is not willing to give up and, yelling deep from his lungs, flings himself up into the air (freeze shot with Nike logo and super, 'Just Do It') and ends up bowling.

Says Sanjay Gangopadhyay, marketing director, Nike India, "This film has its roots in the change which India is currently going through - we're far more confident and positive than we were a decade ago." This confidence has seeped into Indian cricket also. "With instances such as the Natwest Trophy finals, we have proved that we are willing to fight it out, even if we're batting at number six or seven," explains Aggie of JWT. Thus, two words, 'Gutsy Cricket', formed the client brief.

Few know that an even tougher challenge posed itself before JWT than just bringing out the spirit of cricket. Internationally, Nike has always associated itself with mean sports such as football, rugby and basketball, whereas cricket is considered a gentleman's game. In a sense, JWT had to prove this theory wrong by showing that cricket is a tough game, too, and involves the same sweat and toil as the other sports. To do that, the agency drew out the aggression and competitive spirit of the young players, from the way they grunted and yelled while playing to the way the bystanders got involved.

Further, a Konkani song with lyrics on the attitude of a game (penned by Aggie) was added to the TVC as the background track. The idea of using a Hindi track was vetoed because the effect needed was that of a fresh, hummable song. The film and the track were both sent to Portland for approval from the Nike executives there; Aggie feared that they would insist on a Hindi song, rather than the Konkani song, which has an inherent Latino feel to it. "Luckily, they saw how the Konkani song added to the feel of the film and gave their blessings," says a much-relieved Aggie.

Cricketers Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth were cast as mere onlookers as the game in the ad is supposed to belong to young, aspiring players.

The ad was shot by Abhinay Deo of Ramesh Deo Productions; Nitin Desai is the art director. The background is a set created by Desai in Karjat, Maharashtra. The film, shot on a Rs 1 crore budget, is easily one of the most expensive Indian ad films made recently. A traffic setting was used because Nike is known for scaling up a common, every-day setting. Elements such as a man looking into a mirror and clipping his nostril hair (when the ball strikes the mirror), or even the Parsi statue working as the umpire, have all been thrown in to add to the well-planned chaos effect. Further, words such as 'Balcony, ball dena' are quintessentially a home-grown Mumbaikar's line - something that Mumbaikars Aggie and Deo would know only too well.

2007 agencyfaqs!

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