Nike ad celebrates Indian female athletes It’s the best commercial the company has made in years
Rani Rampal, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Shubhlakshmi Sharma, Shweta Hakke, Tanvie Hans, Jyoti Ann Burrett and Ishita Malaviya are not household names in the United States. Deepika Padukone is now known for her acting as much as her badminton skills.
Rampal will be leading the Indian field hockey team in Rio this summer — the first time the women’s team has qualified for the Olympics in 36 years. She burst onto the scene at the age of 15 in the 2010 World Cup, leading the tournament in goals with 7. Kaur has been captain of India’s national women’s cricket team. Mandhana and Sharma play with her on said squad.
Hakke runs track. Hans and Burrett both play soccer. Malaviya is India’s first professional female surfer. Padukone decided to leave her national-level badminton career to pursue modeling. Now she’s a famous Bollywood actress.
This video dropped just over 10 days ago, and I haven’t stopped watching it since it first crossed my desk. Titled “Da Da Ding,” a song by producer Gener8ion (who’s collaborated with musical artist M.I.A. in the past, in a video worth watching, along similar lines) and Los Angeles rapper Gizzle (more on her later), it’s the most visually incredible thing the athletic apparel company has dropped in a very long while.
As of this writing, it’s nearing three million views. The messages sent are so powerful, so fun, so exciting coming from Indian women that are so routinely subjugated to household roles in common society because of traditional values. We’re talking about a place where even after being gang raped, a woman can be forced to undergo “purification rituals,” an obviously barbaric and grotesque measure.
The imagery of female athletes, training, playing, excelling and emoting is just not one we get on a regular basis on this side of the globe. This ad embodies what most women who choose to play sports across the globe have to face, aside from the relatively buoyant land of opportunity that is the Western world of athletics.
“Sport has taught me how to handle failure. It has also taught me how to handle success. It has kept me grounded,” Padukone wrote on her Facebook page when she posted the video, which initially sent it viral. “It has taught me humility.Two years ago, I struggled with depression. I was sinking. I almost gave up. But it was the athlete in me that gave me the strength to fight and never ever give up! And so I want to say to every girl and every boy and every woman and every man … play a sport … because it changed my life … and it will change yours too! Sport has taught me how to survive! It has taught me how to fight! It has made me unstoppable!”
Not to be forgotten is Gizzle, whose lyrics here say it all. “Wake up in the morning all systems on go, ’cause I got goals, and I won’t take no, for an answer, got the grace of a dancer, the heart of a panther, I don’t understand ya” is how she starts off this firecracker of a track. As an openly lesbian rapper, she’s faced her fair share of discrimination in a different male-dominated industry. She’s worked closely with artists like Ty Dolla $ign and Puff Daddy in her career to this point. Her song “BBQ & B——” is one you should definitely check out.
When you combine all that with eye-popping natural colors, tremendous athletes, exciting scenes and zooms, the onlooking faces of dumbfounded guys, grandiose streets and fantastic dancing in one package — you’ve got a serious winner.