Nike's Three-Minute Soccer Ad: High-Powered Art for the Fan


Soccer has some of the best TV ads of any sport, but Nike is taking things to a new level: the company will air a new three-minute ad for the first time during Saturday's UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. It's a short film, really, made by Mexican director/producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (of "Amores Perros," "21 Grams," "Babel," and "Nine Lives").

Nike posted the full-length version on YouTube, and it released a version with commentary from Inarritu on Facebook Friday; follow this link to see it. The ad will air in 32 countries on Saturday for the internationally broadcast UEFA game. Nike doesn't disclose its media buys, so the company won't say how much it's spending to air it this time.

Entitled "Write the Future," it is something to see. Top pros--Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho, Landon Donovan, Franck Ribery, and Fabio Cannavaro, for instance--were filmed by Inarritu, playing on a pitch.

The players envision real-world consequences of their plays--maybe a controversial subject, given the assassination of Colombian footballer Andres Escobar after his own-goal in the 1994 World Cup.

After sending a pass that gets intercepted by Ribery, Wayne Rooney stares himself down in a mirror and throws a bottle at his reflection; the stock market crashes in England; the papers diss Rooney; he grows a beard and a gut and winds up cutting grass in the stadium; he lives in a trailer under a billboard of Ribery. Back on the pitch, we see Rooney shake off this hallucination, chase Ribery down and tackle him.

Ronaldinho pulls a move that becomes a worldwide dance craze, and Kobe Bryant appears, dancing the jig after he drains a three at the buzzer to beat the Portland Trail Blazers. Roger Federer is in the ad, too, getting beaten by Rooney at ping pong. And here we see the global influence of Nike in sport. So many stars, so many dollar signs represented on camera.

As a sport, soccer has some of the best TV ads around, particularly at World Cup time. See this Adidas ad from 2006, and this Nike ad from 2002, the latter of which essentially captured soccer's cultural moment in the U.S. Nike got into mix-tape-style ads last World Cup with its JogaTV series. A lot of big-time soccer advertising, on TV and on YouTube, involves players doing cool things with a ball--the game, at its best, looking stylish.

Nike's new ad, in keeping with that advertising tradition, is one of the highest-end pieces of commercial art you'll see, considering the production from a bona fide filmmaker and the aggregate global appeal of all the multi-national stars on screen. Its airing will be an oddly tailored event of art, commerce and sport.

Inarritu describes it as an "unstoppable kind of absurd action plus action plus action plus..." That's pretty much what it is: a tornado of soccer and culture and fame. Nike selling the beautiful game with high-powered aesthetics.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Entertainment

Just In