NIke’s 'Crazy Dreams' campaign wins Cannes Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix

The polarizing 'Crazy Dreams' campaign from 2018 starring former NFL pro Colin Kaepernick paid off  by winning tons of earned media and boosting its brand value.

NIke’s 'Crazy Dreams' campaign wins Cannes Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix

The effort started with a nine-word tweet from Kaepernick on a quiet Sunday afternoon in September. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything," it read, along with the hashtag "#JustDoIt" and a close-up image of Kaepernick's face. 

The tweet went on to garner tons of media coverage while burnishing the sports apparel giant’s social justice credentials. By putting Kaepernick at the center of the campaign, Nike was seen as backing his effort to bring attention to racial inequities, which started with him kneeling during the national anthem. The ex-quarterback became a lightning rod, beloved by progressives but criticized by conservatives. Nike’s campaign fueled a conversation still going on today about what role brands should—or should not—play in tackling societal issues.

The campaign, meant to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the brand’s famed “Just Do It” tagline, actually featured a wide array of athletes, including Nike endorsers LeBron James and Serena Williams, as well as lesser-known athletes like 10-year-old Isaiah Bird, a wrestler who was born without legs.

The effort previously nabbed top honors at the Cannes Lions in 2019, when it earned the Grand Prix in Outdoor as well as the Inaugural Entertainment for Sport Grand Prix

Winning Gold in the category are Burger King for its “Whopper Detour” campaign from FCB New York; and Pernod Ricard for its “The Time We Have Left” campaign from Leo Burnett Madrid.