The U.S. women's national soccer team won its fourth World Cup title yesterday (despite being woefully underpaid), with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.
Mere seconds after the game, Nike weighed in with a one-minute commercial that people are calling "brilliant."
The ad ran 155 words, but honestly--a three-word phrase at the very end was the most important.
That phrase: "This team wins."
You haven't been living under a rock, I assume, so I'll keep the exposition brief. A few things to know:
- Let's say it again: The U.S. women's team won! Fourth World Cup title. It's pretty amazing.
- Oh, there's a bit of controversy. Just before the tournament began, the entire U.S. women's team sued U.S. Soccer over the fact that they're paid just a fraction of what the men's team makes. They're now in mediation.
- Speaking of controversy! You might have heard about Nike and Colin Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross sneaker. It didn't get much coverage or anything. (Kidding. I recommend my colleague Erik Sherman's smart take on it.)
And Nike's ad basically addressed all three things at once--in a very satisfying emotional way.
Here's the full text of the ad. It's short. (TV transcripts are often shorter than you think they'll be.)
It starts with a version of the "I Believe" crowd chant that is one of the best U.S. soccer traditions (although it started with Navy football).
And from there it goes into a manifesto:
I believe that...
I believe that we...
I believe that we will be four-time champions, and keep winning until we not only become the best female soccer team but the best soccer team in the world.
And then a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play, and say things like I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up, and that they'll be inspired to talk, and win, and stand up for themselves.
And I believe that we will make our voices heard, and TV shows will be talking about us every single day and not just once every four years.
And that women will conquer more than just the soccer field, like breaking every single glass ceiling and having their faces carved on Mount Rushmore, and will be fighting not to just make history, but to change it forever!
This team wins. Everyone wins.
But let's focus on those five words, especially the first three of the last five.
As I wrote yesterday, the women's team should definitely be paid at least as much as the men--probably more--largely because of the tremendous upside in the women's game as opposed to the men's.
In other words, it's a good investment when you can bet on a growing market, like the men's game.
But it's a no-brainer, brilliant investment when you can invest early in an exponentially growing market--which more accurately describes the women's game.
I say all this as a pretty big fan. I've grown up with the men's game. In fact, I wrote this while watching the Gold Cup final. (The men lost to Mexico, 1-0.)
But, as Nike poignantly reminds us, the ultimate reason why professional teams play is to win. To win games. To win hearts. To win championships. And to control the conversation.
So far, the men haven't done it. The women are now entitled to four stars over the U.S. crest on their shirts.
And Nike made sure everybody remembered the difference.