How French Directors Megaforce Captured the Spirit of London in Nike’s Wild New Ad

Executing W+K London's frenetic vision

Nike London

Some Nike commercials are as memorable for their camerawork, and the way they’re shot, as for their celebrity stars or message of inspiration.

Guy Ritchie’s stunning 2008 spot “Take It to the Next Level” immediately comes to mind. A decade later, the brand’s newest effort from Wieden + Kennedy London, titled “Nothing Beats a Londoner,” is likewise technically breathtaking, in part thanks to the efforts of Riff Raff directors Megaforce.

W+K has described the three-minute spot, which rolled out last Friday, as being “from London, for London.” But it wouldn’t have been the same without the four Frenchmen who make up Megaforce, whose long career in music videos has included work for Rihanna and Madonna.

The ad takes the viewer on a tour of the British capital. It celebrates the spirit and competitiveness of real-life Londoners by featuring 258 of them, including famous faces from music and sports like Mo Farah, Harry Kane, Dina Asher-Smith, Gareth Southgate and Skepta.

The spot weaves together a slew of different scenes by having a character from each one slip seamlessly into another, over and over. The talent narrates by talking directly to the camera, and each scene features different types of camera moves and tricks—some of them as wild as anything Nike has put on film. Furthering the playful sense of competition, even the music changes for each scene, offering everything “from a classical​ ​score to grime to a wurlitzer organ,” says W+K.

Check out the results below. (The spot is heavy on the London slang. Unfortunately there are no subtitles, though they would come in handy.)

“‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ champions a special, unbeatable attitude we’ve discovered in the U.K.’s capital,” W+K London creative directors Paddy Treacy and Mark Shanley said in a statement. “The campaign is from London, for London, and celebrates the next generation of sporting stars against a city backdrop thriving with a culture of sport in every street, park and building. Despite the star cameos, the creative flips the traditional model and holds kids up as the inspiration for all—championing them, their spirit and incredible athlete mindset.”

We spoke via email with the four Megaforce directors—Léo Berne, Charles Brisgand, Raphaël Rodriguez, and Clément Gallet—about their tour de force piece.

AdFreak: What did the script look like when you got it?
Megaforce: The script was a pretty long PowerPoint, full of funny images and animated gifs. It was full of London slang as well, so we spent an afternoon on Urban Dictionary to decipher.

Did you diverge from the script, or take the story in new directions?
We didn’t change the original script much. It was more of an interpretation of it. In a nutshell, we came up with three main ideas. The first one was to bring each challenger into the previous scene, so each kid can react to each other in the same place. This way, we enhanced the relationship between them and the comedy. The second main idea was to have different music on each scene and to create a sort of big medley of London’s sound. The third idea was to structure the film, pace-wise, in three parts, the second part being the break in the barber shop—which was another scene originally—and the third part being a crescendo with one piece of music building up to the title sequence, made with single strong shots without speech.

There is some crazy camerawork here. Do you have any favorite scenes?
We all wanted to have fresh ways of showing sport tricks. But all those tricks had to not be gratuitous. They had to illustrate and overstate the athlete’s speech. That was an exciting challenge.

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