Canadian rapper/producer Drake has finally dropped his latest hit Laugh Now Cry Later featuring Lil Durk, and the official music video is effectively a 5-minute Nike commercial. Seriously. The film features top athletes like Kevin Durant, Odell Beckham Jr and Marshawn Lynch but the star is one and one only – the Nike brand – showing once again that the swoosh is so much more than a sportswear label.

Credits – Drake / YouTube

You might or might not like his music, but it can’t be denied that Aubrey Drake Graham, better know as Drake, has a certain talent for what he does. He’s been riding the wave for more than 10 years now, breaking record after record and nailing pretty much all of his collabs – artists, celebrities and sponsors alike. It’s not the first time he has partnered with brands in very unconventional ways (I saw him bring out a floating yellow Ferrari during a live concert just to match one of his lyrics…) and certainly not the first time he has been associated with Nike, but this one feels different. It is almost more about Nike than Drake himself.

The film is, in fact, an ode to the swoosh. The video is entirely set in Nike’s World HQ in Beaverton, Oregon. It features all sorts of Nike gear from shoes to bags, hoodies and coats (talk about product placements). There are cameos from prominent Nike athletes such as Kevin Durant and Odell Beckham Jr, and nods to other superstars in the Nike roster like LeBron James. It’s a carefully orchestrated glorification of the Nike brand in all its ramifications, from the sportswear manufacturer to the lifestyle trendsetter.

Credits – Drake / YouTube

And that’s the most intriguing point. I’m struggling to understand whether it’s a Drake song with a Nike ad or a Nike ad with a Drake song, because the Nike brand lives so naturally throughout the video. It brings together athletes, celebrities, artists and spectators alike in a way that is much deeper than the clothes it sells. And it made me realise once more how masterfully Nike has evolved outside of its original industry to become an all-around pop culture powerhouse. Through campaigns, sponsorships and collaborations transcending the sports world (rappers Drake and Travis Scott, model Bella Hadid, artist Kaws just to name a few) Nike has been aggregating different arts, industries and audiences as seamlessly as selling a pair of Air Force 1s. Other brands have tried a similar approach (you don’t have to look too far – see Adidas with Pharrell Williams or Kanye West) but Nike’s image as a pop culture icon is just too strong, so strong that it almost becomes normal to see it as the casual starring partner of the most streamed hip-hop artist in the world (Drake, FYI).

To link back to the title of the post, Drake’s latest music video is a marketing masterclass. Yes, Nike’s masterclass. And not necessarily for generating 30 million views in five days (which by the way is pretty damn impressive) but because it’s just another, obvious sign that Nike is sitting at a very exclusive table of global brands shaping the XXI century pop culture.

Oh, the tune is fire too.

@albpis

Brand Manager by day, I edit AdCoffee by night. And I don't even drink coffee.
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