Serena Williams stars in 'Dream Crazier,' Nike's follow up to Colin Kaepernick commercial

Serena Williams of the US serves against Germany's Tatjana Maria during their women's singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 15, 2019.
Paul Crock | | Getty Images

Nike's "Dream Crazy" ad featuring football star Colin Kaepernick garnered mass media coverage, a backlash from some people on Twitter and an increase in online sales in the days after the commercial aired in September.

Now Nike has launched a 90-second ad, "Dream Crazier," featuring Serena Williams, the gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chloe Kim and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, among others.

Williams narrates the commercial, which takes negative portrayals of women in sport and makes them into motivational statements. It marks the start of Nike's push ahead of this summer's Women's World Cup soccer tournament and debuted during the Oscars TV broadcast on Sunday night.

"If we show emotion, we're called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we're nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional," Williams says, against footage including the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team and Sam Gordon, the 15-year-old female football player.

"When we stand for something, we're unhinged. When we're too good, there's something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we're hysterical, irrational or just being crazy."

"But a woman running a marathon was crazy. A woman boxing was crazy. A woman dunking, crazy. Coaching an NBA team, crazy. A woman competing in a hijab; changing her sport; landing a double-cork 1080; or winning 23 grand slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more, crazy, crazy, crazy, and crazy," Williams says.

The 90-second ad ends with her stating: "So if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do."

Ahead of the ad's debut, vice-president at the company and general manager of Nike Women, Rosemary St. Clair, said the company is undergoing a "recalibration" of how it approaches women in sport.

"Today, we are at a turning point for women in sport. The definition of sport has broadened overall; we recognize that the same lessons in self-esteem and confidence that come from participation in traditional sports also come from yoga, boutique fitness, functional fitness and so much more," she said in a piece on the Nike website Friday.

St. Clair also wrote of her experience working in marketing ahead of the 1999 Women's World Cup where she wanted to encourage parents to take their daughters to soccer games.

Nike releases TV ad featuring Colin Kaepernick

"We wanted to create momentum, so we worked hard to encourage parents to take their daughters to games. Honestly, we weren't sure it was going to work. But, it did. Then-10-year-old Alex Morgan, now leading the U.S. National team into this summer's tournament, is firm testament." Nike is a team sponsor and the U.S. soccer team will compete in the Women's World Cup in June.

Nike launched a "performance" hijab in 2017 to encourage more Middle Eastern women and girls to play sport and the "Dream Crazier" ad shows the Muslim American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad competing in one. St. Clair said Nike's sports science lab and design teams would work to expand their understanding of women's needs.

Nike has had its own gender equality issues. In August, the company faced a lawsuit filed by female former employees alleging the company discriminated against them in respect to pay, promotions and conditions of employment. The company restructured its leadership team after a group of women presented a survey on gender discrimination to CEO Mark Parker in March.