Every ad should begin with Skepta’s “Shutdown.” If this hasn’t occurred to you before, it certainly will once you’ve seen the new Nike ad featuring some of England’s most exciting new artists including Jorja Smith, AJ Tracey, Giggs, J Hus, Dave, and Big Shaq himself, Michael Dapaah. Titled "Nothing Beats a Londoner," the clip is a three-minute explosion of energy that blows away your typical advert.
The ad is absolutely off the walls, with lightening fast cuts, increasingly absurd scenarios, and a jolt of animation with serious shades of Space Jam. It emphasizes the struggle and grind of various aspiring U.K. athletes, from soccer players to rowers to swimmers to one lonely hockey player. The crop of musical talent that cameos is matched by the British sports stars, including the likes of Harry Kane, Mo Farah, and Eden Hazard.
Smith recently appeared on the Black Panther soundtrack, while Skepta jumped on Xavier Wulf’s “Check It Out” remix in January. He also collaborated with Nike on his own version of their iconic Air Max. The depth of musical talent coming out of the U.K. right now is staggering, and the sheer number of stars that appear in the clip really puts that in perspective, and as we noted in a recent story on the relationship between brands and artists, these kinds of brand partnerships are not viewed as selling out the way they were years ago. A symbiotic partnership between artists and companies can help boost the profile of a rising musician without forcing them to compromise their sound for commercial play.
Watch the ad above and read Pigeons & Planes' feature on 20 British rappers to check out in 2018, as well as our story on the power of brand co-signs. Also check out interview with AJ Tracey at HARD Fest.