Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Nike’s Not-So-Secret World Cup Ads Go Viral Before They Launch

The World Cup starts next month. So where’s the blitz of Nike (NKE) ads that always accompanies the globe’s biggest sporting event?

Funny you should ask. Nike will formally start pushing out its new ads tomorrow on TV, Facebook and Google’s (GOOG) YouTube. But the marketer gave the campaign a small push early this week, which is all it took. People are lapping this stuff up.

This three-minute spot, for instance, is on an “unlisted” YouTube page, which means it’s theoretically “private”–it won’t show up in YouTube search results or its homepage, and you can only get to it via a link (I got there via AdWeek’s Brian Morrissey). But it has already racked up some 400,000 views. That number will start getting really, really big tomorrow.

No idea who any of these people are? No worries. There’s a partial explication, via Nike press release, below.

The story starts when the viewer is drawn into the heat of battle on the pitch as a ball drops from the air into the path of Didier Drogba. As the world holds its collective breath, Drogba picks his way through sliding defenders and expertly chips the goalkeeper – wild celebrations commence across Africa. But they are curtailed at the last second as Fabio Cannavaro makes a stunning overhead goal line clearance. This game-changing moment propels Cannavaro to pop culture icon complete with television chat show appearances and a song dedicated to his moment of brilliance.

Other global football stars including Wayne Rooney experience how a moment on the pitch can last forever. In one scene, the England striker sees an intercepted pass picked up by midfielder Franck Ribery. The ensuing impact brings a nation to its knees and leaves us to imagine Rooney’s destroyed career and his life as a groundsman, living in a caravan, with Ribery’s image looming large above him on a giant billboard. Fast forward, and Rooney relives the moment, sprints after Ribery and wins the ball back. Personal and national pride restored, we see him receiving a knighthood, with headline-grabbing plaudits, a maternity room full of little Waynes and an effortless table-tennis defeat of Roger Federer. The Rooney ripple effect comes full circle.

Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo is fouled in a game, and as he prepares to take a vital free-kick for Portugal, we flash forward to see the ripple effect if he scores; a stadium named in his honour and a Film Premiere for a movie of his life.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus