Why Nike’s Unlimited Series is Unstoppable Part 1

By Misha McPherson|Misha's Musings|Sun Aug 21 2016|


The newest addition to Nike’s Unlimited campaign is Sister Madonna - the Iron Nun. She keeps popping up on my Facebook feed as a reminder to be fearless and break boundaries. If you haven’t seen it, trust me, it's worth watching.

We are consistently bombarded by what we are not doing well enough. Not thin enough. Not ripped enough. Hair isn’t straight enough. Teeth aren’t white enough. So if you just feel bad enough about yourself, and buy enough of our stuff, maybe you won’t be so hideous. Just do it? Just saying.

There is a lot of really bad marketing out there that does a lot of harm. It does harm to men. It does harm to women. It does harm to just about every group out there, and the response is often either blindness or anger. We can do better than what is the norm today.

Sister Madonna is an 86 year old triathlete who has participated in the Ironman triathlon. Ironman is the longest of the four triathlon distances with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. Sister Madonna has completed that distance 45 times. In total, she has completed 325 triathlons, and has no interest in stopping. Let's think about this for a moment. People often start complaining about aches and pains in their 30s. Sister Madonna didn't really start until her 50's

This is what I love about IronNun: it is funny and effective. The narrator starts by patting Sister Madonna on her head insinuating that she is merely a cute old lady who trying to still be active. The humor is in the reality of the situation; elderly people are fairly invisible in media unless they are in a role dedicated to aging. However, Nike broke through that norm and highlighting the fact that the IronNun is a bad ass who can very easily outrace the average joe. Featuring a real person and real events helps the ad resonate with its audience. We as the audience can identify with the milestones she encountered in her journey. We can aim to attain her strength and determination. She is not perceived as perfection. Her wrinkles are recognized as battle wounds. IronNun is not a photoshopped superhuman. IronNun is not a pro football player. IronNun is an example of an everyday human pushing the limits of their body and finding joy in what she can accomplish.

Doing the right thing in marketing and advertising doesn’t always have to be serious. I’ll take a sense of humor and a bit of wit any day. I just want to see advertising with a bit of realism. Show me what real people do, what real people look like. I want to see real people/ role models that impact me in a positive way. I want some hope. Thanks for the inspiration, Nike. You rock my world, IronNun. Now that I think about it, I need a new pair of running shoes.