After judging the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions, BBDO Asia’s Jean-Paul Burge explains what made Nike’s Dream Crazy the Grand Prix winner.

As the 2021 Creative Effectiveness judging panel, we were blessed with great work to analyse, debate and ultimately judge. Creative Effectiveness entries came from all over the world across multiple industries and, if I may be allowed somewhat of a platitude, they were all fantastic pieces of work.

After a year and half to forget, taking the time to again enjoy the work was not only a privilege but a great pleasure. I, for one, sat back, turned the volume up and made the most of the opportunity.

I can’t, nor would I presume to, speak for the others in the room, but from the start of the process, Nike’s Dream Crazy was the Grand Prix for me. There were three things that, in my view, put it well ahead of other work and catapulted it into Grand Prix territory, that is to say work that is universally understood to be outstanding.

  1. It built the Nike business. Dream Crazy was purpose-led, authentic and certainly creative, but it was also effective. Not only did it change perceptions of Nike, it also contributed to its business. The campaign generated 2.7m mentions of Nike within a week and, in less than 24 hours, delivered $43m in media exposure. The video garnered over 21m YouTube views within a week and, to top it all off, Nike saw a 31% growth in online sales within a week, compared to a 17% gain for the same period in 2017.
  1. It was a critical campaign in changing how brands look at the world and how the world looks at brands. The work and its effects helped redefine the role that brands can play in society and culture, showing the industry (and the world) what is possible.

  1. These two effects worked together to send a message to the industry. Dream Crazy showed that being brave generates returns, both in terms of societal impact and business results. The campaign sold stuff, enhanced the perception of Nike, generated discussion and debate, but also forced itself into the boardroom agenda with a single, powerful question: “In a changing world what role should we play?”

A guiding light for the industry

At a time when brands are being pressured to take a stand, the work is a guiding light and a reassurance that it pays off to take a risk. Featuring Colin Kaepernick as the main protagonist of Dream Crazy was a strategic decision based on research and data, but ultimately Nike took a bet: a bet on its consumer base championing the statement it made. Nike was willing to back its own values, especially at the cost of customers. It took the opportunity to do the right thing in the eyes of its customer-base and this accomplished its financial goals.

I have always looked at careers, and life, as several chapters and footnotes. For anyone involved in this campaign, this was a major chapter, one to be immensely proud of. Put simply, some campaigns change a brand and its future, some campaigns change the world.

Nike’s Dream Crazy changed the world.

For those of us who love this business and the potential it has to work for good, it proves our case and perhaps forces us all not only to ask, but to find an answer to the question on what role we should play in a changing world.

An abridged version of this article appears in WARC's report, Insights from the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions winners.