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Nike merges beasts from Chinese mythology with basketball in new campaign

A new campaign for Nike in China created by Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai saw the brand launch a four weekend basketball tournament called the Beijing99.

Apart from the event, other elements of the campaign included launching jerseys inspired by the emblems and mythical beasts embroidered on the robes of people of rank in ancient China.

Of the thousands of basketball players participating in the tournament, only the best would stand a chance to win these jerseys and the title of being among the most elite players in the city.

The jerseys numbered one to 99 included a golden dragon at one, with many real and mythical beasts rounding out the numbers. For instance  leopards and the xiezhi – a beast from Chinese mythology that was a symbol of justice.

The campaign for Beijing99 included out of home elements like posters and more atypical ones like kites and projections. Nike and W+K partnered with Mindshare and Kinect.   W+K planner Chris Kirkup said: “Beijing players have a reputation for talking a big game, so giving them a platform to back up their talk with performance was important to our approach.”

W+K Shanghai executive creative director Ian Toombs added: “We wanted to inspire pride and ambition in Beijing’s younger athletes. So we combined elements from China’s rich visual history with modern art direction to celebrate the attitude and intensity of Beijing basketball players.”

W+K creative director Matt Skibiak said: “It was important for this work to feel like something that could only exist in Beijing.

“The team even used elements inspired by the Forbidden City’s architecture to design the OOH. We wanted these jerseys to feel like Beijing trophies.”

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