Creative Wieden+Kennedy Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Holy triathlon! Sister Madonna Buder features in new Nike work from W+K Portland


By Doug Zanger, Americas Editor

August 15, 2016 | 5 min read

I was raised Catholic and in the pantheon of nuns, the likes of Mother Teresa and Frances Xavier Cabrini generally top the list of most famous — and deservedly so. They are badasses (such language!). However, one nun, 86-year old Sister Madonna Buder, known as the “Iron Nun,” is taking pious fame and that badassery (again, the language, Douglas!) one step further in Nike’s newest “Unlimited” campaign spot from Wieden+Kennedy Portland.

What makes this spot, “Unlimited Youth," so great is that: 1) Nike is continuing to get the everyday superstars in our lives front and center, 2) the VO for the campaign is some of the better casting I’ve heard in awhile (Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor Oscar Isaac) and 3) an amazing NUN!!

"Our goal really here is to take athletes of all types, ages, skill levels, on a journey to reach their full potential,” Nike’s CMO Greg Hoffman told Fast Company. "At its essence, the Unlimited campaign is about inspiring and motivating athletes to break through their limits. The idea that, as an athlete, it's not about finding your limit, it's about realizing that you have none. And I think with truly great athletes, the insight was that they get to the point of having an unlimited mindset. So for us, it's to truly engage with athletes around the world during this summer of sport, and get them into that mindset too so they can reach their own full potential.”

Sister Buder’s story is right in the middle of that delicious target. From Spokane, Washington, she competed in her first Ironman World Championship triathlon at age 55 in 1985 in Hawaii — and, according to Sport360, channelled the divine.

“I thought of the finish line as the entrance to the final finish line, into the Pearly Gates,” she said. “That’s what drew me to [it].”

At age 75, she became the oldest to ever complete an Ironman and, at 82, she set the world record as the oldest Ironman triathlon competitor — male or female. She has completed the grueling event 45 times and has more than 370 total triathlons under her belt (habit?).

"I've learned other life lessons along the way,” Buder told Triathlon Inspires, “But the ones that I'd look back and tell my twenty something self now are: It's not what you say, it's what you do; don't pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel.”

Indeed, sister. Now off to confession for my language in this — and, you know, other things, too.


Client: Nike (Ean Lensch, YinMei San, Amber Rushton)

Project name: Unlimited Stories (Unlimited Youth)

W+K Portland:

Global Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke

Interactive Director: Dan Viens

Copywriter: Adam Tetreault

Art Director: Sara Phillips

Global Executive Producer: Matt Hunnicutt

Senior Agency Producer: Ross Plummer

Agency Producer: Mauricio Granado

Art Production: Amy Berriochoa, Jennifer Spillers

Project Management: Christina Kim

Studio Design Manager: Alicia Kuna

Studio Designer: Rehanah Spence, Edgar Morales

Retouchers: Amy Corcoran, Kyle Pero, Saskia Thomson, Greg Radich

Strategic Planning: Andy Lindblade, Nathan Goldberg, Brandon Thornton, Reid Schilperoort

Media/Comms Planning: Danny Sheniak, John Furnari, Brian Goldstein, Jocelyn Reist

Account Team:Chris Willingham, Alyssa Ramsey, Corey Woodson, Anna Boteva, Carly Williamson

Business Affairs: Amber Lavender

Broadcast Traffic : Stefanie Goodell, Andrea Sierra


Production Company: PRETTYBIRD

Director: Max Malkin

Executive Producer: Ali Brown, Suzanne Hargrove

Head of Production: Tracy Hauser

Line Producer: Matt Wersinger

Director of Photography: Max Malkin

Production Designer: Rob Pearson


Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors

Editor: Damion Clayton

Assistant Editor: Mike Spagnolli

Post Producer: Dina Ciccotello

Executive Post Producer: Helena Lee


VFX Company: The Mill LA

Creative Directors: Phil Crowe / John Leonti

2D Lead Artist: James Allen

2D Artists: John Shirley, Brad Scott, Alex Candish,

3D Artists: Andy Wheater, Jie Zhou, Michael Lori

VFX Producer: Anastasia von Rahl

VFX Coordinator: Rustie Burris

VFX Executive Producer: Enca Kaul


Company: The Mill LA

Colorist: Adam Scott

Producer: Diane Valera

Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson

Licensed Music

Musical Artist: Sandy Nelson

Track Name: Drums Are my Beat

Sound Design

Sound Design Company: Barking Owl Sound

Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi

Creative Director: Kelly Bayett

Producer: Ashley Benton


Music/Sound/Mix Company: Lime

Audio Mixer: Loren Silber

Audio Assistant: Mark Nieto

Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Creative Wieden+Kennedy Wieden+Kennedy Portland

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