Runner in training: Nike commercial brings out greatness in all

Since moving to Wisconsin early this year, my girlfriend and I have lived without television. But with laptops handy, we’ve managed to survive.

Hulu, Netflix and an HBO account provide enough entertainment to rot our brains.

But I admit, not having a TV usually means you’re the last person to know. When no live feed is available online, I must wait – sometimes a full day – before finding the video on YouTube.

That’s why my discovery of this ultra-inspirational Nike commercial came a little late. If you’ve been watching the Olympics, you’re probably aware of a new series of ads featuring cities and towns around the world with the name “London.” This commercial is part of that series.

The camera tracks back on an empty road in the early morning hours. We hear bugs buzzing and see a figure emerge in the distance. Then, a voice: “Greatness. It’s just something we made up. Somehow we’ve come to believe that greatness is a gift.” 

At this moment, die-hard movie fans are thinking, “Is that the voice of Tom Hardy?” And they would be correct. The villain from the latest Batman film is giving us goosebumps of a different kind.

As the figure in the distance comes closer, we see it’s a jogger.

Hardy continues: “Reserved for a chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars. And the rest of us can only stand by watching.”

We now see the jogger’s body. He’s clearly overweight. Well, to be accurate: He’s obese. This isn’t your typical commercial face.

Hardy’s English accent goes on: “Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It’s not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing.”

The runner is a kid. (Not sure what parent would let their child run in the middle of nowhere early in the morning. But I’ll accept it.)

Hardy finishes: “We’re all capable of it. All of us.”

Then, the slogan emerges with the Nike swoosh underneath: Find Your Greatness.

And, scene. Beautiful. If this commercial doesn’t make you want to get out of bed and take a jog aound the block, then nothing will.

As expected, the ad has created quite a buzz online. And the kid – that’s 12-year-old Nathan Sorrell - is taking a beating in the comment game. Just find the commercial on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s some of the comments I could write without getting fired:

“The worst commercial in the world. So he gets fat and after that he finds out about running? Only when we are in need we found out there is more than McD in life. Tragedy no?”

“Run fatboy, run!”

“So some fat kid is running … He didn’t achieve greatness. Everyone is not important.”

Surprise. Surprise. There are rude people in our world and they all inhabit the Internet.

I for one think Nike’s decision to choose Sorrell for this ad was the right one.

Like the majority of the athletes pacing through the terrible pain during the Fox Cities Marathon this September, I’ll be doing so without a perfect figure. No six pack here.

If anything, Sorrell gives us hope. He represents the underdog, the least likely to succeed, the loser, the waterboy. Put simply: Sorrell is average.

Perhaps a bit below average, you might say. But he’s not the tip of the iceberg, and neither are we. The average person does not train six days a week and eat water for breakfast. We have no plans to run against the best in the world. We are simply seeking the best in ourselves.

Sorrell is a representation of not having an excuse. The ad makes you say, “Well, if he can do it …”

Kudos to Nike for making such an inspirational ad. Tens across the board.  

- Kyle Daly: 920-993-1000, ext. 430 or; on Twitter @kyledaly2

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