Williams Sisters are a Smash Hit for Nike

You Can't Stop Sisters



A few weeks ago we featured Nike’s recent “You Can’t Stop Sport” ad, a work of technical genius which still only managed to score 3.9-Stars. That kind of montage-based spectacular is the sort of ad Nike is best known for. But it’s not necessarily the kind of ad they do best.

This week, the brand released a new ad, “You Can’t Stop Sisters”, which spotlights Venus and Serena Williams in the week of the US Open. Compared to “You Can’t Stop Sport”, it’s an extremely simple piece of work. No special effects or camera tricks – just footage of the Williams sisters and the staggering raw statistics of their career at the top of their sport, plus a voiceover by Serena Williams putting it all in perspective. Where others saw rivals, they saw sisters.

It’s hard to see “You Can’t Stop Sisters” winning awards. But it might be more deserving of them than its technically accomplished fellow ad. “Sisters” scored a massive 5.4-Stars. That’s extremely high by sportswear standards, a level only a few ads by Nike, Adidas and other big brands have got near. It also had exceptional short-term Spike score – however, its fluency was still low, as Nike prefer not to brand their ads overtly until near the end.

This low Fluency score presents the only real question mark over the ad. Are audiences getting emotional because of Nike, or because of the Williams sisters and their astonishing achievements? Surely it’s the latter. Nike have associated themselves with the story, and told it very well, but it’s a story that should move you no matter which brand is telling it.

In one sense this is a moot point. Selecting the right athletes to sponsor is part of the sports marketer’s art. Nike picked a winner with Serena Williams and with this ad they are seeing some of the benefits. “You Can’t Stop Sisters” is a lovely piece of craft, too, with a great use of music to support the emotional journey of the ad. But is the craft ultimately more help to the Nike brand… or the Williams one? That modest Fluency score suggests it might be the latter.

Take a look at the in-depth Test Your Ad report here.