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Nike’s VP of Global Brand Marketing on Celebrating the Power of Play

Nike’s latest campaign, “Play New,” invites people to discover sport in new ways. The campaign launches with a film that features elite athletes like Sabrina Ionescu, Dina Asher-Smith and Blake Leeper, as well as award-winning artist Rosalía. Their commonality is finding joy in movement, play and competition — and using their participation as fuel for confidently pursuing their respective goals. The theme developed from an embrace of the reverberate power of play.

Melanie Auguste, VP, Global Brand Marketing, unpacks the meaning of play and reminds us that harnessing the joy of sport is itself a life hack.

Joy Through Play

Play means joy. It represents pure enjoyment and being able to just be free. All kids play. That’s just a natural thing they do. The reason we are encouraging people to ‘Play New,’ is to celebrate that notion of getting back to the joy of discovering and trying something for the first time — the joy of letting loose a little bit.

Inspiration Through Play

Sport is of the greatest ways to watch our growth as human beings. Think about all the different ways that you can move. As a kid, with my brothers, we would mimic the sports we saw on TV. One we did the most was the high jump. We had a bed with posts, so we would tie a string, and then we would take turns jumping over that. We would then go onto our cul-de-sac and run sprints. We had a pool, so then we’d try to do the butterfly. I’m pretty sure we were not doing it right. It was some form of just belly flops. All of that movement and play brought us so much joy.

Resilience Through Play

You want to make change in the world? First you must mirror that change you want in yourself. Sport becomes a vehicle for you to get to know yourself, to be comfortable with yourself, to be confident, to try concepts out that you will use in the world. Whether it’s the process of resilience of learning something new, or the process of working with a team, or the process confronting things that gives you that practice time and eventually that confidence. So then when you go step into the world and you see things you want to change, you’ve had a place where you’ve practiced that and done that, because sport is just a microcosm of the broader world.

Discovery Through Play

We sometimes get trapped in an idea: ‘if I play a sport, what are the chances I go pro?’ My response is, if you play a sport, just see where it takes you. Sport helped be a vehicle for me to find my competence as a little kid. Now, as an adult, it became a way for me to learn the world. What makes engaging in sports so cool is that my story didn’t end with me being a professional athlete, but it ended in me being able to tell stories about professional athletes and still be inspired by it.

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