Young Londoners still smiling at Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner ad

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A horse club in Brixton has thanked the Nike makers of Nothing Beats a Londoner for shifting perceptions of what’s possible in London.

Local fourteen-year-old Grace Mpungi, who has been riding with the club for six years, is seen calmly poised while her horse dramatically rears up in the ad.

The YouTube ad, launched in February, caused a sensation, and is still being shared and enjoyed online by young Londoners. Nike has had to pull the ad from its account due to legal action from others with the rights to the hashtag #LNDNR, but the ad can still be found on alternative accounts.

Naomi Howgate of Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, said, “It was a great experience for our riders and great exposure for our charity. We really hope it’s helped to challenge the idea of who makes a great horse rider and where they might come from.

“The fact is 100 young people ride with us here every week – and this is not where the horse community generally expects to find riders.

“Three of our young riders took part in a casting for the ad, which involved them going to train at a professional stunt riding centre. This in itself was a great experience for them.

“Then one rider was chosen to take part in the ad. Grace Mpungi is 14 and has been riding with us for six years, her older brother also rides with us. Her family live in the estate just behind Ebony Horse Club.

“She was so brilliant, completely calm and controlled on that big horse. The filming took place in the early morning one day in December, so it could have been cold and tiring, but Grace was treated to breakfast with the crew and received her Nike gear to wear for the filming, and she handled it all really well.

“Two horses, from Steve Dent Stunts, were brought to us in Brixton and warmed up before the filming.

“Grace was calm and collected through the whole process and the crew were really impressed with her. We were of course very proud.”

Grace was filmed taking her usual route by horseback through Wyck Gardens on Millbrook Road.

The location fee paid will help the horse club with its ongoing fundraising to continue making lessons available to local children in school holidays.

Naomi Howgate says, “We are fundraising at the moment to send 40 of our riders to a residential course over the August holidays. So we would very much welcome any donations to help with that.”

Brixton is in Lambeth, but Southwark, Haringey and Islington also took part in the ad, which is still considered a favourite by young Londoners.

FilmFixer manages the film office service for these councils.

FilmFixer director Karen Everett says, “It’s obvious watching this ad that it was a big operation and we were happy to help out with getting parts of our neighbourhoods on screen, representing a London so many of the residents we serve will recognise as their own.

“Our boroughs can be seen almost from start as a young footballer tells Skepta a cycle’s light work, ‘I’ve got to run two miles just to get to training. Serious bro’, and runs along Kingsland Road to Islington’s Market Road Football pitches, before then scoring a goal.

“He’s immediately told that’s nothing by a boy who’s then seen running along Downhills Park Road in Haringey saying, ‘I have to run all the way from zone 6 with my school bag.’

“But his school bag pops open and a girl says, ‘Oh you think that’s tough..?’

“Next thing, she’s running along Choumert Road, in Peckham, Southwark, followed by a creepy skeleton, quad bikes and scooters, saying ‘I have to run through Peckham, at night.’

“As she passes Morleys Chicken Shop on the corner of Rye Lane, Giggs sticks his head out of the shop and asks, ‘What’s wrong with Peckham?’

“Well indeed, nothing’s wrong with Peckham. And the production left a generous donation to the Silverlock estate tenants and residents association there.

“A bit further on, we see a young ice hockey player at the Alexandra Palace rink in Haringey saying, ‘Noone plays ice hockey in London. I have to be my own team. My own opposition. And my own coach.’

“He’s quickly followed by Michael Dapaah who winds up in a barber shop on Hornsey Road in Islington, claiming he’s mates with Arsenal footballer Alex Iwobi. But Iwobi says, ‘No you’re not.’

“Dapaah wakes up in a house, also on Downhills Road in Haringey, to find Mo Farah in his bedroom.

“A boy back in Peckham is working out on an outdoor gym in the Silverlock Estate. He says he has to be his own security, and turns into an animated giant.

“To which a girl answers, ‘So, if this goes wrong, I’ll break my legs,’ before she’s thrown into a backflip in the beautiful Tottenham Town Hall in Haringey.

“And if that’s not bad enough, a boy says, flanked by a couple of mates, ‘I don’t even have a whole bike’, while he’s doing a wheelie on a frame with just a back wheel. This is along Gower Street in Camden.

“We should add that all proper precautions were taken with this rolling road shot with a police escort and four outriders.

“It’s then at about 2 minutes 43 seconds into the ad that we see Grace on her beautiful white stunt horse in Brixton, rearing up with the housing estates in the background.

“It’s a great piece of work. For us it’s extra special because local residents were taking part on camera as well as benefitting from donations to local charities.

“The filming took place in the cold of December last year, probably quite accurately representing the chilly conditions many young Londoners train in.”