To me, Oscar Pistorius is both a fascinating human story and a signal of things to come. Born without bones from the knees down, he’s overcome adversities that most of us can’t even fathom. Now he’s a fast enough runner that he’s on the brink of becoming the first Paralympic athlete to compete in the Olympics themselves. However, the opposition he faces is greater than just his lack of legs…
Check out my last post about Pistorius for the complete story on the controversy surrounding his journey. In the end, after wrangling with various international athletic federations and flying around the world for scientific tests, Pistorius was only finally allowed to try and make the South African Olympic team mere weeks before the preliminaries and he fell seconds short of making the team. His sights are now set on London 2012. I’ll say it right here, right now: in 2012, Oscar Pistorius will become the first “differently abled” athlete to compete in the Olympic Games and make history before all of our eyes.
For now, Pistorius remains an inspiration; a shining beacon of just what the human body and mind is capable of in a competitive world designed to keep people inside their neat little boxes. Pistorius has appeared in Nike South Africa ads before, but in this new spot, “Bad Listener”, they pay a subtle tribute to the strength of his will. There’s a slight irony here, with the spot created to coincide with the opening of an Olympic games that Pistorius won’t be attending (though he will be competing in the Paralympic Games, where he’s sure to continue demolishing the competition as he has been for years. He’s the Michael Phelps of Paralympic Track).
The ad isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, but with subject matter like this you don’t really need it to be. Shot with his actual trophies and at the actual high school he attended in Pretoria, Nike and W+K were smart enough to know all they needed to do was tell the story simply and with truth, because the emotion inside it is so great and universal that it’s doesn’t need to be augmented by any advertiser or agency.
It’s almost so quick and easy as to brush past you. But I dare you to calm your mind, sit for a moment, watch this, and actually imagine what it would be like to be him. To have everyone tell you that your dreams are impossible. And then to prove them all wrong. And to have to do it every single day.
(Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam. Director: Brent Harris. Production: Rabbit at Bonkers.)