Nike Created a Hypnotic Tribute to Eliud Kipchoge, the Fastest Marathoner of All Time

The brand had predicted he would make history

Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge set a new world record at this weekend's Berlin Marathon, and Nike already had a celebratory ad ready to go. Getty Images
Headshot of David Griner

When Nike wanted to attempt the almost certainly impossible goal of breaking the 2-hour marathon mark—a massively time-consuming, expensive and exhausting effort now known as “Breaking2″—the brand largely pinned its hopes on Eliud Kipchoge.

The Kenyan long-distance dominator fell heartbreakingly short of the goal, crossing the finish line just 25 seconds over two hours on May 6, 2017, and Nike opted not to make another attempt. But Nike execs said they believed all the innovation and effort, especially on Kipchoge’s part, could end up changing the way marathons were run and won.

On Sunday, Kipchoge might have proven those optimistic predictions right. He didn’t just win the Berlin Marathon; he shattered the world record by shaving one minute and 20 seconds off the time set at the same race in 2014 by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto. Kipchoge finished in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds. (His Breaking2 time, while better, was not an official record per the sport’s governing body.)

Nike clearly believed such a historic race was on the horizon. In its 30th anniversary Just Do It spot that debuted earlier this month, we see footage of Kipchoge as narrator Colin Kaepernick says: “Don’t try to be the fastest runner in your school or the fastest in the world. Be the fastest ever.”

Then, a day before his Berlin run, Nike and Wieden + Kennedy Portland rolled out a full ad dedicated to Kipchoge. You won’t see too much of him in the ad, but that’s because the ad puts you in his sneakers:

While minimalist, the ad is also patient and hypnotic. It captures the vibe of rhythmic determination that defines distance running, and while it likely won’t get audience’s hearts pumping like a highlight reel of high-powered tennis volleys and bone-rattling NFL plays, it’s still got a quiet power of its own.


Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Executive Creative Directors: Eric Baldwin, Jason Bagley
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Writer: Caio Mattoso
Art Director: Rodrigo Mendes
Director of Production: Matt Hunnicutt, Mike Davidson
Executive Producer: Jake Grand
Producers: Mauricio Granado, Tiffany Golden
Business Affairs Manager: Nestor Gandia
Account Team: Andre Gustavo, Kate Rutkowski, Mike Waywell, Brittany Martin
Strategic Planning: Andy Lindblade, Nathan Goldberg
Media: Daniel Sheniak, Geoff Scoones, Vivian Zhang
Project Managers: Shannon Hutchinson, John Radaza
Integrated Traffic Managers: Marie Hernandez, Tim Bell
Studio Manager: Alicia Kuna
Studio Designers: Seth Shelman, Shayne Kybartas

Production: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Isaiah Seret
Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
Line Producer: Jonathan Wang
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler

Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Nicholas Davis
Assistant Editor: Jonathan Schell
Post Producer: Chris Girard
Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

VFX Studio: JAMM
VFX Supervisor/ Lead Compositor:  Brian Hajek
On Set Supervisor: Patrick Munoz
CG Artist: Stew Burris
CG Artist: Zachary Dimaria
CG Artist: Fred Hopp
VFX Producer: Justine Pregler
Executive Producer: Asher Edwards
JOINT Flame Artist: David Jahns

Music Supervision: Walker
Executive Producer: Sara Matarazzo
Senior Producer: Stephanie Pigott

Song: Tree’s
Written by Robert DiPietro
Performed by Robert DiPietro
Engineer: Graeme Gibson

Mix Company: Joint
Audio Mixer: Noah Woodburn
Audio Mix Assistant: Natalie Huizenga
Mix Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

Sound Design Company: Joint
Sound Designer: Noah Woodburn
Producer: Leslie Carthy

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: September 17, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT