Gauthier Ajarrista, Junior Strategist at Brandhouse

Nike’s new smash-hit advert has once again bolstered the brand’s dominance, and marked its continued, stellar rise from old-school American sports classic to global lifestyle icon. By showcasing the lives, hopes and challenges of kids around London hailing from various backgrounds, Nike has really hammered home the fact that inclusiveness must be on the agenda for all brands and their partner agencies.

The ad has been praised across the board as an already legendary piece of marketing, and an example of outstanding creative work. But as with anything of this scale, it also has its critics. These mostly zone in on the fact that while the advert represents more than is usually represented, what ends up standing out is who isn’t included.

Many have asked: what about those outside of London? Isn’t this advert just another example of the elites only ever catering to the capital and ignoring the rest of the country – when Brexit has made it clear just how damaging that is?

And others have questioned: what about South Asians? Yes, it’s great that black communities are finally represented, but as the largest ethnic minority group in the country, surely South Asians deserved a few seconds of screen time on a 3-minute-plus film?

Even I confess to having asked myself: why are there only born-and-bred London-sounding people in this ad? With almost 37% foreign-born Londoners, you’d likely find a few kids on the council-estate basketball courts who didn’t sound all like Oliver Twist. Do non-British Londoners not contribute to making the city as vibrant as what the ad implies?

Evidently, anything today appearing to attempt ‘inclusiveness’ will instantly fail to be so in many people’s eyes – basically, whoever’s not clearly included. This is revealing of a key challenge that brands face in the era of ‘wokeness’: even if your intentions are good, can you ever really please everyone? And, more importantly: would you even actually want to?

Sure, being more inclusive is nothing short of an imperative for brands today, and an advisable tactic for those wanting to get with the times. But attempting to talk to everyone all at once often means not really standing for anything in particular, and typically winds up feeling insincere – two pitfalls that brands must always avoid.

Lest we not heed the wise moral of Aesop (the Greek fabulist, not the fancy soap): Please all, and you will please none.

The ad in question, in case you live under a rock, or outside of the M25:

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