NEWS: Violent Nike spot sees Cantona combat ‘evil’

Wieden and Kennedy Amsterdam has made a violent and controversial new commercial for Nike, portraying football as a gladiatorial combat between good and evil.

Wieden and Kennedy Amsterdam has made a violent and controversial new

commercial for Nike, portraying football as a gladiatorial combat

between good and evil.

A version of the ad has already been banned in Denmark because it was

deemed too frightening for young children. In the UK, it cannot be shown

during children’s programmes, and the Broadcast Advertising Clearance

Centre has insisted on cutting a scene where one of the ‘forces of

darkness’ team headbutts the Arsenal player, Ian Wright.

The commercial opens with a piece of flesh being thrown on to the pitch

from the crowd and, as the game commences, the white markings of the

football pitch go up in flames. The Nike heroes, led by Eric Cantona,

play against a team of mythical beasts in a Roman amphitheatre.

After a series of violent clashes, the match climaxes with a goal by

Cantona, as he kicks a fireball right through a giant, winged goalkeeper

and into the back of the net.

The copywriter, Glenn Cole, defended the brutality of the ad. He said:

‘Violence on and off the pitch has soured the game at times over the

past 20 years, but our players represent a different approach. They take

us back to the beauty of the game and overcome the bad forces.’

Nike has lined up a full team of 11 footballing stars, although the mix

is being changed slightly in some countries to accommodate the different

local reputations of particular footballers.

The ad was directed by Tarsem through Spots, and art directed by David

Helm. The special effects were created by the same team that worked on

the Oscar-nominated film, Apollo 13.

The new commercial breaks on Sky TV next week during the Premier League

clash between Liverpool and Newcastle United, before going on to

terrestrial TV. The full year’s media schedule is still being decided,

but the ad is likely to run through the Euro ’96 football championships

this summer.

Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow and Johnson is running another dramatic

Nike ad in the UK next week, with a new poster campaign to tie in with

the London marathon on 21 April.

The poster shows the paraplegic athlete, Peter Hull, who, despite being

born without arms or legs, has completed 18 marathons.

The headline, intended to convey the Nike attitude, reads: ‘Peter is not

like ordinary people. He’s done the marathon.’ It was written by Phil

Cockrell and art directed by Graham Storey, with photography by Tim


Simons Palmer has directly addressed runners of the London marathon in

recent years, with poster executions such as ‘Can’t is a four-letter

word’, ‘No U-Turn’, and ‘We do not accept your resignation’.

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