So World Cup fever has hit the globe and I’m ashamed to say, I’m one of those unaustralian Australians who jumps on the bandwagon but never gets out of bed at Ridiculous o’clock when the games are on.
Everything I know about the Cup, I learned from three sources: my soccer-loving housemate, watching five minutes of Sam, Santo & Ed’s Cup Fever on SBS and Nike’s Write The Future ad. I’m not a sports fan. This is what I know about soccer: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugese, not Brazilian and 2) Harry Kewell is smokin’ hot. But every time I watch Write The Future, it blows me away – it makes me want to give up my awfully fulfilling life to become a world-class soccer player…failing that, I will probably just seduce Ronaldo, spike his drink and ask him for his hand in marriage.
The multi-million dollar ad, directed by Amores Perros‘s Alejandro González Iñárritu, stars some of soccer’s biggest players and features cameos by Homer Simpson, Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer and Gael Garcia Bernal. It is three minutes of pure entertainment of an incredibly high production value. Not only is it an absolutely stunning ad, it will probably pull in a shitload of coin for the already massive brand. The ad has had over 16 million youtube hits – not bad considering it’s only been out for a month. Here it is in case you missed it:
Nike’s perfectly executed ambush marketing campaign has no doubt taken adidas by surprise. Ambush marketing revolves around a specific event where companies – who are not official sponsors – devise a strategy to promote their brand in connection with the event without actually paying any sort of sponsorship fees. In an act of pure genius, those sneaky little marketing smartasses up at Nike HQ have pulled off a massive coup for the Nike juggernaut. Rather than forking out AU$400 million to be the major sponsor of the World Cup (good one, adidas), they went and spent a few million bucks on an ad and launched it a couple of weeks before their rival launched theirs. The adidas ad, an homage to Star Wars‘ famous Cantina scene, features the likes of Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg and David Beckham and one would think that with stars like that, their ad would be amazing, right?
Sorry, adidas, but that was as boring as batshit. And did you pay Becks another gajillion dollars for that starring role? I sure as shit hope not (Becks – you should totally stick to your day job of World’s Highest Paid Player Not Playing Right Now).
It seems Nike’s strategy has paid off: in a recent survey, most people thought Nike were the major sponsors of the Cup, not adidas. These sorts of campaigns, if done well, are an extremely effective marketing and branding tool – why fork out hundreds of millions of dollars when you can just piss away a few million and potentially be the stronger brand? One of the questions emerging from this is whether it is morally right to “ambush” another company like that – there’s now talk about introducing more stringent regulations when it comes to marketing and brand promotion at major events. Then again, I’m sure Nike and adidas weren’t considering anyone’s moral rights when they got all the little asian tackers to make their shoes back in the 90s for an annual wage of a packet of instant mi goreng noodles…but that’s a whole other story.
As much as we pan advertising and it’s sometimes negative cultural and social impact, there’s nothing wrong with an advertisement made purely (OK, largely) for entertainment’s sake – how often do those sorts of ads come along? And I’m sure none of us are stupid enough to go out and buy a pair of soccer shoes in the hope it will make us dance like Ronaldinho in the ad. If, however, wearing Nike increases my chances of getting freaky with Ronaldo, I would totally go out and buy every single Nike product ever made.
All Images Copyright Nike Inc.