Campaign: Da Da Ding
Brand: Nike
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy India

It was only a matter of time before “This Girl Can” seismic waves made their way overseas, sweeping up as they went, an army of women determined to not let their gender act as a limitation when it comes to sport, and why not?

A brand that’s no stranger to singing the praises of strong, active, healthy women, Nike India’s latest ad, “Da Da Ding” taps into this, aiming to de-stigmatize fitness for women by giving it a complete makeover.

In a refreshing break from the glorification of male sportspersons (something that is amplified even more so in India), the ad shows fierce female athletes doing their thing and looking totally badass whilst doing it. Set to the unbelievably catchy anthem, Da Da Ding by Gener8ion and American rapper Gizzle, the film is a clarion call to women not just in India, but all over the world and is sure to stick in your head all day.

According to Wieden+Kennedy India’s creative director Mohamed Rizwan, “Sport in India has a massive image problem, particularly for women.” “Da Da Ding” aims to change that by showcasing passionate women breaking conventions and entering the male dominated world of athletics.

The film, directed by François Rousselet, features real athletes such as national hockey treasure Rani Rampal, who at 15 was the youngest player to participate in the 2010 World Cup, and Ishita Malaviya, India’s first ever female professional surfer. These women are seen running and dancing, but also playing high impact contact sports that are traditionally reserved for men, such as basketball, boxing, and who could fail to mention the significance of India’s national obsession: cricket.

Not only are these inspiring athletes paving the way for new, modern ways of thinking that give women more options, “Da Da Ding” sees a shift in the portrayal of women in advertising in general. A concept that may seem alien in the West, India’s advertising channels are saturated by light-skinned women “wondering how to get a stain off their son’s cricket whites.” So, as Creative Review puts it “if you’re a woman with aspirations other than home improvement, the ad space leaves you feeling grossly under-represented.”

However, despite the ad representing women in a positive, empowering light, you can’t help but think that its feminist credentials are left slightly wanting. In typical Nike style, the ad makes sport seem cool, accessible, and aspirational and has a definite “this could be me” feel to it, but there’s no denying these women don’t look drop dead gorgeous. Admittedly there’s nothing suspicious about a fitness brand making sure its advocates are dressed in all the best gear, however, the feminist message gets a little lost when these role models are so obviously sexualised.

Whilst there’s no denying that this homage to “This Girl Can” represents a new generation of women subverting cultural norms in what is clearly a huge step forward, there’s still a long way to go. Then again, for now at least, the quest for female equality appears to be a marathon and not a sprint.

Words by Katy Pryer