Ranking the 20 Best Nike Commercials of All Time

Nick HouserCorrespondent IIFebruary 8, 2012

Ranking the 20 Best Nike Commercials of All Time

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    Nike does a lot of things well. Making commercials is one of them.

    From USA basketball to World Cup soccer, famous athlete to ordinary Joe, Nike covers every sport and every type of athlete. Their commercials motivate us, make us laugh and compel us to want and purchase their products.

    The athletic manufacturer continues to produce inspiring and entertaining television spots year after year. We don't mind, though; it gives us another opportunity to update the list of greatest Nike commercials of all time.

    The last year or two have provided several incredible commercials. This list includes many recent additions and the classics we won't soon forget.

Preview: Summer Olympics 2012

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    This is not one of the greatest of all time.

    But since we're talking about Nike in the year 2012, we might as well get this discussion started by pumping you up for the Summer Olympics.

Honorable Mention: Cricket in India

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    Summary: Passion for the game doesn't stop for anything.

    Why it's great: First, it puts spotlight on a sport that doesn't get much publicity in the United States. Second, it's fresh, it's exciting and it's fun. It sparks memories of childhood, having to put games on pause for oncoming cars.

    Except these guys don't pause.

    Best Part: The determined young man at the end.

Honorable Mention: Make It Count

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    Summary: Nike tells you to "Make It Count" in 2012, titling the new year as the one to get up and work hard, no matter what your sport is.

    Why it's great: It's the new version of the "No Excuses" campaign. The ball is in your court. Besides, all the cool athletes are doing it. Don't you want to be on this bandwagon?

    Best Part: It's short enough, and the entire commercial is a good one.

20. Danny Don't Know

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    Summary: Playing off of the popular "Bo Knows" commercial, snowboarder Danny Kass tries his hand, unsuccessfully, at a few other sports.

    Why it's great: Bo Jackson was a strong-built athlete that played in two professional sports at the same time. Kass is more of an average build, though he's insanely talented at his sport. The commercial spotlights the athlete who may not be good at the most popular sports, but he's still got game.

    Best Part: The entire video

19. Accuracy Test

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    Summary: Fernando Torres puts Wayne Rooney through an intense accuracy test.

    Why it's great: Obviously it's not real, but Rooney is so good it's believable. The spot makes us salivate over having skills like this.

    Best Part: 40 seconds in—Rooney "tells" Torres to take it easy.

18. Players vs. Ninjas

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    Summary: Ninjas have stolen a soccer ball and these stars must get it back. Why? Because it's "rounder."

    Why it's great: It's fast-paced and features sweet soccer skills. It's a fun, thrilling mini-movie full of intrigue.

    Best Part: 1:14 —The foot skills and pullback.

17. Nike Shox Streaker

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    Summary: A streaker interrupts a soccer match and evades captors due to his shoes.

    Why it's great: It is hilarious. The insinuation that the shoes are that good almost make us want to try for ourselves. Almost.

    Best Part: 18 seconds in—the cartwheel.

16. Nike Spec 1.20

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    Summary: Inspiration to keep trying and to never give up.

    Why it's great: It does exactly what it intends to do: inspire. Like the commercial says, "It's not about not falling. It's about getting up again. It's about keeping on trying."

    Best Part: The announcer being so condescending you. It's even more inspiration to throw it back at him.

15. Make the World Better

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    Summary: Nike reminds us of what they (and sports) have done for the world through a mash up of past commercials.

    Why it's great: The reminder works and it works well. It's a very clever commercial.

    Best Part: 1:40—making the world a better place, even for the naysayers.

14. What Should I Do?

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    Summary: LeBron James' commercial after signing with the Miami Heat asks fans what they think he should do.

    Why it's great: To Cleveland fans it's not. But the beauty of this commercial is that LeBron stands up for himself. He lets the world know, while he may be an athlete, he's still a person. He still makes his own decisions and he has to look out for himself. He can't simply do whatever everyone else wants him to. Get the message? Be your own person.

    Best Part: 36 seconds in—a dig at Charles Barkley

13. House on Fire

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    Summary: Kobe and LeBron puppets arrive home to find the house is on fire. Kobe gets excited when he finds out what started it.

    Why it's great: It's the best of the puppet series with hilarious lines and the Kobe puppet's exuding pride.

    Best Part: 44 seconds in: "This shoe is a fire hazard."

12. I Feel Pretty

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    Summary: The camera follows Maria Sharapova's path from hotel to tennis court as fans sing, "I Feel Pretty."

    Why it's great: The entire commercial places such a soft feel toward the athlete until the final seconds when she crashes expectations.

    Best Part: 54 seconds in—backhanding the expectations away.

11. What Was Your Soul Born For?

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    Summary: As the upbeat "I've Got Soul But I'm Not a Soldier" by The Killers blares, we see shots of athletes accompanied by positive messages.

    Why it's great: It's uplifting and inspiring. The question begs us to answer what our soul was made for, right this second.

    Best part: 54 seconds—work hard and believe and maybe you can be the next great one.

10. Jordan's Failure

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    Summary: Michael Jordan describes success stemming from failure.

    Why it's great: It's all about the message. You will fail. But if you train, work hard and keep at it, you will also succeed.

    Best Part: The entire video

9. Basketball Freestyle

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    Summary: An amazing display of basketball skills and talent set to the sounds of sneakers, bouncing balls and whistles.

    Why it's great: It simply dazzles us to an unbelievable extent.

    Best Part: The entire commercial.

    Here's the soccer version as well.

8. My Better Is Better Than Yours

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    Summary: A mix of professional athletes, regulars and even kids telling their competitors they're better.

    Why it's great: You see it one of two ways. If you see it as the athletes trash-talking you, then it's inspiration. Don't let them talk to you like that; train harder and beat them. Or do you see it as the mentality you need to have. Be one of them.

    Best Part: 15 seconds—Kevin Durant's baby.

7. Born to Run

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    Summary: While out running a man receives a text message. He hurries home to grab a few things then it's off to the hospital for the birth of his son.

    Why it's great: The ending is cute, effective and completely unexpected. The message is perfect.

    Best Part: 58 seconds—the surprise ending.

6. Counts!

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    Summary: Nike provides numerous examples of exercise and explains what counts and what doesn't.

    Why it's great: The commercial mixes sports and movies to include a bit of nostalgia. The music is perfect and the opening line hooks us immediately. Everything is summed up and brought together with one simple line: "Life is a sport."

    Best Part: 39 seconds—quitting doesn't count. Getting back up does.

5. Take It to the Next Level

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    Summary: Nike takes us through the life of a player: youth to professional, getting schooled to training harder. In point of view fashion we see the best, then we become the best.

    Why it's great: Read the above. We become the best.

    Best Part: 50 seconds in—Cristiano Ronaldo kisses at us. It's time to change our game. 

4. The Kobe System

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    Summary: Kobe Bryant unveils his new "KobeSystem" at a seminar to a crowd of athletes and celebrities. He explains, vaguely, how to travel out of the top-tier of success and into the beyond.

    Why it's great: There are so many factors of entertainment here. Bryant's vagueness makes the "system" so ridiculous that it's hilarious. The various celebrity sightings in the crowd make us believe Kobe is officially the best of the best. The original commercial spawned several newer additions as well, such as this gem.

    Best Part: Five seconds in—Kobe's entrance.

3. Write the Future

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    Summary: The 2010 World Cup commercial runs through the timeline of a few series in one soccer match. From Didier Drogba to Fabio Cannavaro, Wayne Rooney to Ronaldinho and finally to Cristiano Ronaldo, we see some of the game's biggest superstars. Who will rise, who will fail?

    Why it's great: We see into the hypothetical mind of the athletes and experience what failing must feel like on their level. It's a reminder for us to take the future into our own hands.

    Best Part: 58 seconds—Wayne Rooney sees post-fail aftermath.

2. Leave Nothing

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    Summary: We follow Ladainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu from birth through childhood, where the two have no idea who each other are. Until, of course, they collide on the field.

    Why it's great: It's a nice reminder that everything starts with a dream. It's what you do to reach the dream that matters.

    Best Part: The entire video

1. Top That

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    Summary: Amazing talent is showcased in a variety of sports and competitions, each attempting to top the one before.

    Why it's great: The skills showcased are jaw-dropping. The competition within the commercial of the athletes is entertaining. It's both visually stunning and inspiring.

    Best Part: 17 seconds in—the wheelchair flip.

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