The World Cup has millions of fans scattered around the globe. So enthralled by the daily events are these fans that even the tamer followers work their schedules around the 90-minute games. With so many potential consumers watching – 25 million reportedly tuned in for the recent USA vs. Portugal game – advertisers would be committing a huge infraction by not taking advantage of every commercial’s increased reach.
With this in mind, Nike has unleashed a new viral video entitled “The Last Game.” Wieden + Kennedy and Passion Pictures took a big risk creatively – no actual human soccer players are featured. The video uses only animated futbol stars to tell the story of a much less exciting future for the sport.
The video begins with a pretentious scientist reminiscent of The Incredibles telling us the chief flaw of the game – players make mistakes and aren’t predictable. To solve this problem, his company Perfect, Inc. has created clones of the players, each with flawless decision-making capabilities. As the video continues, we see the clones taking over stadiums player by player.
The dispiriting scenes start to change when retired Brazilian player Ronaldo “O’Fenomeno” kidnaps the ousted athletes who were forced to work ordinary day jobs and inspires them to play against the clones in a final sudden-death match. Play by play, “the Originals” realize being unpredictable is the only way to win. After a few bold moves – including Brazil’s star player Neymar pausing mid-pass to take a selfie –Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo wins the game with a final dramatic goal.
The Nike swoosh doesn’t make an appearance until the last frame under the tagline “Risk Everything.” But despite the spot’s nearly nonexistent branding, the video’s viral nature means the risk paid off for Nike. Viewers enjoy a story, and Nike intertwined its brand with a very short but meaningful short-film.
Nike’s message was intended to inspire athletes. But by gambling with animation, Nike’s tagline applied to Wieden + Kennedy, too. Risking everything, Nike and the ad agency scored major points for brand building, making Nike a front runner in 2014 World Cup advertising.