Nike takes on greatest opponent – AIDS

Nike in South Africa has been taking a different approach to sports promotion. In a first for the company, a television commercial was used to lend weight to the struggle against AIDS. To the sounds of Nancy Sinatra singing “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, amateur and professional athletes are knocked over by an invisible force. The ad was released at the end of November 2005 in time for World AIDS Day.

Soccer boy flung to the ground

The 40 second ad begins with young boys playing soccer in a neighbourhood field. One demonstrates his considerable skills at juggling the soccer ball, only to suddenly fall sideways and to the ground. Teenage girls playing netball are stunned when one of the players suddenly falls to the ground, without the ball even being played. Fabian McCarthy, South African footballer, runs through a shower of rain, dribbling the ball, only to be taken out by an invisible force. Charne Rademeyer, South African marathon runner, falls backwards down a flight of steps. Butch James, South African rugby union player, is tackled by an unseen player. Lehlohonolo ‘Hands of Stone’ Ledwaba, South African boxer, is floored by the punch of an invisible fighter. The super: “Our greatest opponent is one we cannot see. Back in the neighbourhood, young men playing basketball are confounded when one of their players, in the middle of a slam dunk, drops flat on his back. The super: “Life is not a game. Wear a condom”, appears white on black, with the Nike swoosh.

Click on the image below to play the video.


The Nike Opponent campaign was developed at Lowe Bull, Cape Town, by creative director Porky Hefer, art director Alexis Beckett, copywriter Roger Paulse, and agency producer Karen Kloppers.

Porky Hefer said: “We discussed the catastrophic implications of HIV and AIDS, and how it affects every facet of life including sport. If the disease continues to escalate at its current rate, particularly amongst the youth who are currently most at risk, will we even have any sport stars in the future? In simple terms, will there be anyone left to kick a ball around with?”

Filming was shot by director Keith Rose via Velocity Films, Cape Town.

Director Keith Rose added, “Sportsmen and women take their sport very seriously. In fact, most competitions are seen as a ‘life or death’ situation where one either wins or loses. To become the best, one needs to overcome many obstacles. Similarly, HIV/AIDS is an opponent that has the ability to defeat. In order for our audience to truly understand Nike’s message that ‘Life is not a game’, we had to demonstrate the effects of HIV/AIDS by driving the message home in the hardest possible way.”

Editor was Peter Mostert at Chemistry, New York. Post production was done at The Refinery, Cape Town, by Flame artist Charmaine Greyling.

Beyond the TV

From December 1 to 3, 2005, Nike’s six concept stores in South Africa contained no product, instead focusing on the HIV/AIDS message.

“The advertising campaign supports what we’re already doing at grassroots. Nike has been supporting disadvantaged communities since it entered the South African market 10 years ago. Now we are placing more emphasis on HIV/Aids,” said Ashika Kalyan, Nike South Africa’s marketing director.

“Nike has a set of maxims according to which we conduct our business. One of the maxims is ‘Do the right thing’. Where sport inspires life, HIV and Aids takes this away, and as the world’s leading sport’s brand, we intend to use the strength of the brand, in conjunction with our NikeGO grassroots initiatives and our athlete partners, to heighten the awareness and education around this disease,” she said.

In South Africa, NikeGO is partnered with the Sports Heroes Walk Against Aids, Imbewu, Ikageng, Orange Farm Sports Council, Gauteng Alliance for Street Children, and the Gauteng North Sports Council.

Behind the Scenes at YouTube

Click to play on YouTube

Lyrics for Bang Bang (He Shot Me Down)

The last two stanzas are used in the Nike Opponent TV ad. The track can be purchased as part of the album, How Does That Grab You? from,

Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) from How Does That Grab You? album on iTunes

Nancy Sinatra How Does That Grab You? at Amazon.comI was five and he was six
We rode on horses made of sticks
He wore black and I wore white
He would always win the fight

Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down.

Seasons came and changed the time
When I grew up, I called him mine
He would always laugh and say
“Remember when we used to play?”

Bang bang, I shot you down
Bang bang, you hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, I used to shoot you down.

Music played, and people sang
Just for me, the church bells rang.

Now he’s gone, I don’t know why
And till this day, sometimes I cry
He didn’t even say goodbye
He didn’t take the time to lie.

Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down…