Nike brings 2012 Olympics to London ... in Tulare County


Nike's famously prompts people to "just do it" - and boy, have they done it.

Just days before the 2012 Olympics Games begin, Nike invites us all to find greatness with the worldwide release of a stunning video campaign called Find Your Greatness. The video, filmed on location in communities named London located in more than six countries and in four states, including London, Nigeria; London, Jamaica; and New London, Connecticut, began its journey in London, Tulare County.

Remember that iconic Superbowl commercial where the little kid dressed as mini Darth Vader uses "the Force" to zap his father's parked VW to life? Yeah, Nike hired that guy - Lance Acord from Park Pictures - to send the world a message. They just did it. The company arguably made famous by using celebrity atheles to endorse its products launched a bold social marketing campaign featuring people from everywhere - ordinary people, everyone - to find their greatness.

"I like this place," explained location manager Christopher Guiterrez weeks ago, when he contacted the Tulare County Film Commission about shooting video in London, a small North Tulare County community nestled amongst fruit tree orchards, and probably known more for its residents' mostly impoverished and hardscrabble circumstances and latent gang-related problems than anything else. "These are nice people. They have nice kids."

Click to see the Nike "Find Your Greatness - Skate" video, filmed in London, CA

Guiterrez is referring to  James Bierman, patriarch of the family home where Guiterrez, Acord and a large production crew of Southern California filmmakers chose to set up shop in hundred-plus degree weather in mid-June. Each "London" community featured in Nike's triumphant video celebrates inspired folks performing different sports activities. In one location it was swimming. Another features a one-armed baseball player. Another, a paraplegic cyclist. Images of Pogo-stick riders rotate with scenes of urban runners. In London, Tulare County, skateboards rule. A couple of pint-sized street artists imported from Compton set up an impromptu course in the Bierman's front yard, using a large road sign liberated from a nameless construction zone propped against a fence as a launch pad to perform aerial stunts. They twist and rotate, then careen like wayward missiles around the dirt yard to slam off a broken sheet of plywood leaned against a rusty old Nova and spring skyward.

It's a scene that would make the cautious wince and plot contingency courses to the nearest hospital ER room, but these atheles are fearless. Exuberant. And untroubled by the crowd that forms, a crowd of curious neighbors, including the menacing-looking dude with the "London" tat that proudly graces his shoulder blades and marks his turf.

Ever the renegade, Nike is not an official Olympics sponsor. They have not chosen to join the official sponsors who committed to give the Olympics Committee enormous amounts of money to be allowed to feature their products at the Olympics. Instead, they hired the director who produced one of the top ten commercials to go viral worldwide in recent years to remind the world great athletes are everywhere, and to exhort the public to find their greatness.

Especially in London, Tulare County.

As advertising industry watchdog Brand Channel boldly states in its analysis of London 2012 Olympics-related advertising campaigns: "Nike Flips the Bird to Olympics Brand Police" while launching a worldwide saturation marketing campaign. Nike has 8.5 million followers on its Nike+ social media sites. The uTube video link scored 200,000 hits within 24 hours - and Nike is just getting started.

Click to see the full Nike "Find Your Greatness" video