Serena Williams is taking aim at dismissive descriptions of female athletes, and Nike is helping her use the immense viewership of the Oscars as a platform. The tennis star narrates and is featured in the company’s all-female “Dream Crazier” ad, which is set to debut during Sunday’s telecast of the 91st Academy Awards.
The ad is a follow-up to one titled “Dream Crazy,” which featured Colin Kaepernick and was first aired during the NFL’s regular season opener in September. “Dream Crazier” is also meant to begin the drumbeat to the Women’s World Cup this summer and it includes members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, as well as three Olympic medalists: gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chloe Kim and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams, who reportedly has been enlisted to help present the best picture nominees at the Oscars, says in the ad. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy. "
Williams then goes on to describe other feats by female athletes that could have been called “crazy,” including boxing, dunking, competing in a hijab and, decades ago, running a marathon. The 37-year-old tennis star also refers to herself in adding “winning 23 grand slams, having a baby and then coming back for more” to the list.
The ad ends with her saying: “So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do. "
“Nike has a long history of recognizing and highlighting female athletes,” a representative for Nike told AdWeek. “The ‘Dream Crazier’ spot is the start of a journey celebrating women in sport ahead of soccer’s biggest moment in France this summer. It is about helping athletes realize their full potential even in the face of adversity.”
In “Dream Crazy,” which was pegged to the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, Kaepernick told viewers, “If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, good. Stay that way. Because what nonbelievers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult; it’s a compliment. "
Williams also appeared in “Dream Crazy,” as did the USWNT. In addition, that ad featured high school linebacker and homecoming queen Alicia Woollcott, while “Dream Crazier” includes Samantha “Sam” Gordon, a teenage running back whose exploits against boys as a 9-year-old went viral. Gordon appeared in an NFL ad that aired during the Super Bowl.
This is not the first time Nike has partnered with Williams to deliver a message of female empowerment during the Oscars. An ad that aired during last year’s Academy Awards had her declaring in a voice-over: “I’ve never been the right kind of woman. Oversized and overconfident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood.
"But I am proving, time and time again, there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
“The use of Serena Williams as the narrator amongst a number of athletes reflects her standing as one of the most inspirational athletes of her generation,” the Nike representative told AdWeek, “who empowers girls to continue to believe in their own crazy dream.”
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