Nike: “Sha'carri Richardson” - 60s
Nike have always been willing to take a chance on a maverick, and Sha'carri Richardson fits that mould to perfection… except for one small thing – she's not delivering on the track, where it matters. The American athlete missed her opportunity to take part in the Olympics after failing a drugs test. Refreshingly, she owned up rather than pretending that she must have been breathed on by a passing hippie… as so many have in the past.
However, when she was given an opportunity to show the world what they'd missed when they preventing her from getting to Tokyo, she rather spectacularly dropped the ball, finishing last with a very disappointing time at the Prefontaine Classic.
It brings into question the wisdom of having her adopt a stridently hubristic tone in this commercial. When she says she'll be waiting at the finish line, we're supposed to imagine her arriving there in triumph ahead of the rest of the field. So, for each of her competitors to reach that line ahead of her has to be considered a bit humiliating. How ever much they may protest otherwise, there's no question that Nike would have preferred her to have delivered a more impressive performance.
The ad itself is cleverly provocative, laying down a gauntlet to her detractors. Unfortunately for the athlete and her sponsors, the aforementioned detractors picked up the aforementioned gauntlet and ran off with it… and – as we saw when they raced against each other – there's no chance that Richardson can catch them.