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
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’.