2004: Adidas creates ‘Impossible is Nothing’ campaign featuring Muhammad Ali
To celebrate the Ad Club of New York's 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.
Adidas impossible is Norhing
Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Camille Imbert, creative director at digital agency Kettle. Bellow, find out why Adidas’s ‘Impossible is Nothing’ campaign is her favorite marketing moment.
Rarely has a collaboration between a brand and an athlete been this strong and inspiring. Adidas did not just embrace the top records and achievements of Muhammad Ali, but, by using one of his messages from the past, Adidas embraced his philosophy as a whole.
"Impossible is nothing” inspires you to push boundaries, set new goals and achieve greatness. It makes you dream. Impossible does exist, but you can overcome it. The powerful difference between "Nothing is Impossible" and "Impossible is Nothing" is that the obstacle disappears and the challenge no longer exists.
It’s also not a call to action, to compete or to win --It’s a larger attitude and philosophy. You can almost feel you entered the mind of the athlete. Knowing Muhammad Ali and his position in life, you know it’s not just about sport it’s about living your life.
The campaign was aiming for a young demographic but its success is embodied in the notion that everyone could identify themselves for any specific challenge. It works as a legacy from an experienced champion to the next generation. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your sport is, as the TV spot, "The Long Run" (featuring Ali running along with Zinedine Zidane, Laila Ali, David Beckham, Tracy McGrady, Ian Thorpe, Haile Gebrselassie and Maurice Green) demonstrates.
"The Long Run" is also a metaphor of his legacy though time. You don’t see them breaking records in their respective sports. Instead, they are all moving forward together, following the lead of a youthful Ali. It’s an intemporel moment where everyone comes together as a team, embracing the same philosophy.
Still, the spot that strikes me the most is the one where Muhammed Ali is fighting against his three time female-boxing champion daughter, Laila Ali.
This feels so relevant to all the modern inspirational campaigns empowering women of today. The spot, voice-overed by Laila (or a feminine voice) could be aired today and the message would work as well, feel as strong and be just as powerful because impossible is nothing, even for a women on a boxing ring.
Editor's note: This was the winner of the reader's vote for favorite marketing moment.