The Curse of Nike
Drogba! Cannavaro! Rooney! Ribery! Ronaldo! Ronaldinho!
These are – in order of appearance – the superstars of this year’s Nike world cup commercial. And those 3 minutes are the only place in the space time continuum they will rule this year. As of this Sunday, they are all out of the tournament! And we’re not even talking semifinals.
Not only did those players not write history… they actually left their pens at home. Some of them did not show up, some were invisible, and some were embarassing.
I am actually wondering if those guys started believing they’re as shiny-good as their TV-ad doppelgangers. From time to time, you could see a frustrated Ronaldo doing triple scissors in the middle of the pitch for no apparent reason whatsoever. Or attempting a freekick goal from 40 meters out.
“The time has come for players to carve their name in history. One touch, tackle or free kick could crush a nation’s hopes or cause them to build a statue in your honor.” NIKE
Am I really blaming the ad? I know, less than four weeks ago, I said this commercial was beautiful and full of truth. But maybe, there’s too much truth. Maybe Nike’s commercial has increased the pressure on the players beyond breaking point. Trying to achieve immortality is a very tough job. It’s probably easier to achieve if you don’t have to watch a better clone of yourself doing it on TV.
Either way, the new ad does mark the end of a long stretch of ads that weren’t focused on individual superhuman-succes. Starting with the famous 1998 worldcup commercial, Nike instead celebrated the playfulness of the beautiful game: in an airport, in a locker room, in team buses, or even directly in the belly of the stadium, minutes before the game. In hindsight, that now looks like a more flexible strategy.
But there’s still good news for Nike: They also made an ad with Robinho. But even that’s might turn out to be a difficult sell. If any one in the Brazilian team is writing history, it’s Dunga – and his defensive henchmen Lucio & Joan. They have turned Brazil’s penalty area into a no go zone for their opponents. But by far the most impactful force on the Brazilian team has been Kaka’s elbow. Time for a commercial?