"Smile", Nike pays homage to Mo Farah, a film review


Mo Farah has just ended a part of his career, and is on to the next stage. From 2010 to 2017, Mo Farah took less than gold in two track races, one, a 10,000 meters in 2011 and the other, a 5,000 meters in 2017. From 2012 to 2017, he won six straight 10,000 meter global championships, and six straight 5000 meter championships from 2011 to 2016.

Mo_Smile_19_native_1600.jpgMo Farah scene from "Smile", screen shot courtesy of Nike communications

It is this writer's belief that Mo Farah was, and is the finest racer of his generation. His 10,000 meters in London was among the finest, if not the finest races over 25 laps that this writer has ever witnessed.

How does one pay homage to the global attraction of Mo Farah? How does one tell the story behind the scenes, of the effort, of the lonely miles, of the ice baths when muscles are screaming, of all that speed that makes the finishes look so damn easy?

Well, just as Weiden + Kennedy did with this film, "Smile." The film was directed by Mark Zebert, and produced by Rogue Film. It is one of W+K's finest works, ranking up there some of their most iconic print and social media ad campaigns of the past several decades.

One minute, one second long, the film features George the Poet, a London-born slam poet who provides the amazing words and presentation to tell the story behind the smile.

Combining fast paced videography, suggesting a dream state, "Smile" is the a combination of Allan Sillitoe's novella, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and books like The Unforgiving Minute, (Ron Clarke). In this modern communication device of short, focused films, the pace, the fast training, the recurring ice baths, all remind us that the race is the final touches of weeks, months, yes, years of training.

I was at his race in Birmingham and Zurich. In Zurich, the race was not over until the very last meters, when Mo Farah pulled out a win the only way he could, earning it. 'Smile' reminds us that an athlete such as Mo Farah is only as good as his very last race.

Mo Farah now moves from the track to the roads. His half marathon win in Newcastle/Gateshead on Sunday, September 10 was his fourth win there. The roads will feature their own challenges, but for now, Mo Farah's deceptive 'smile' is one of his least appreciated weapons.

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