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Nike engages community through the opening of UNITE store in Berlin

To celebrate the opening of its new store in Berlin, Nike unveils new digital mini-series celebrating the young community of Neukölln

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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As the world reopens and shoppers return to their local stores, cultivating and celebrating community is becoming a growing strategy for brands to  differentiate the in-store experience from the online one. Nike UNITE stores do exactly this and are opening across some of the world's major cities; the brand’s new concept stores aim to provide a space for communities to run activities and workshops that benefit locals as well as serving products tailored to the interests of the community.

To celebrate the opening of the latest Nike UNITE store in Berlin the brand has created a new digital mini series, ‘Die Hitze von Neukölln’ celebrating the young community of Neukölln, Berlin and allowing young voices to reclaim their own narrative in one of Berlin's “most misunderstood neighbourhoods.” The series takes a positive look at the future of gentrified communities and neighbourhood growth, giving the young residents an opportunity to reclaim their own stories and consider the importance of the community and what it means to those who live and work there.

The digital series is formed of two episodes released through Nike Berlin’s Instagram account and focuses on two young voices from the Berlin neighbourhood Neukölln - an area often negatively portrayed by German mainstream media due to its large non-white population and gang violence in the area. In the first episode, we meet Ali, an 18-year-old player, referee and coach who made it his mission in life to keep kids off the streets with football. And, in the second the focus is on Büsra, a young boxer and capoeira fighter that since she was little she had confronted stereotypes often experienced by women and other minorities in sports.

“Berlin’s most diverse, vibrant and intriguing district - Neukölln - used to be the poster child for failed integration, clan criminality and high unemployment in Germany. Young Neuköllners  still carry the weight of those outdated stereotypes. And rightly, they are fed up.” explained Lucas Funke, Creative Studio, Nike Berlin, “With the opening of the first Nike UNITE store in this district our aim was to become a true neighbour to the real people of Neukölln by changing the old narrative. To do so we tell stories of our amazing store athletes* as they really are, stories of compassion, resilience, community and pride.”

The audience is shown how sport has impacted the lives of young people and highlights the ways in which it can also help build community. In cities like Berlin, gentrification is a common problem as the negative parts of it are often highlighted. Nike’s aim with 'Die Hitze von Neukölln’ was to fully understand the community it’s joining, stepping away from globally targeted content and working with creative agency Soursop to create a series that reflects the reality of the every day in the community. By working with local talent and putting the spotlight on their real stories, storytelling was able to see the series talk to a specific community in an authentic way.

Amsterdam-based, UK born creative agency Soursop has created the series in collaboration with Nike’s Creative Studio. Berlin-based directing collective I Am Here, consisting of Maik Schuster and Max Paschke, acted as directors and photographers on the campaign. The series sees content shot using a MiniDV, a Super 8 and an iPhone 11 Pro, to breathe naturality and life into the production. The team made this conscious decision to step away from the more glossy productions usually seen on previous Nike’s content to create the series in a way that’s realistic and representative of the film’s subjects.

"Nike Berlin wanted to create something that showed they 'got' what Neukölln is all about. Not for the gentrifiers, but for the kids born and raised here.” explained Soursop Founder, Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock, “That meant rather than focusing on ostentatious cameras and controlled brand narratives, we wanted to create something that feels like it could have been shot by one of the kids on their phones. This was a new way of working for Nike, but ultimately we feel got us into a totally new place"

'Die Hitze von Neukölln’ is slated to be indicative of an important turning point for the brand, part of Nike’s global push to reach audiences on a more regular basis in a variety of different ways, not only focusing on elite athletes but tapping into local communities. With the future of the high street changing day by day and the growth of online commerce only set to continue, spotlighting communities and creating stores that enhance the local area will contribute to more meaningful physical retail experiences.

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