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Ad of the Day: Nike's 5-Minute Animated World Cup Film Has Humans Everywhere Cheering


Last week we wondered if another marketer had managed to out-Nike Nike with a flashy short film around the World Cup. Nike probably didn't care, though, as it was busy changing direction completely—Ronaldo-like—and again looking to leave its rivals in the dust.

With the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup just three days away, Nike Football has unleashed its latest blockbuster in the "Risk Everything" campaign. And the creative direction certainly is a risk for the client and its agency, Wieden + Kennedy.

That's because it doesn't show a single soccer player in the flesh. It's all animation. That's an audacious decision for a company and category that rely so much on star power. But it also frees Nike from its albatross-like "Write the Future" legacy, and gives viewers a fresh, fun, funny and at times beautiful take on the current state of global soccer.

The concept (or just watch for yourself below) is that mad scientists have created clone versions of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Andrés Iniesta, Franck Ribery, David Luiz and Tim Howard. The human versions, you see, take too many risks on the field, and their percentage chances for success aren't great (prior evidence notwithstanding, apparently). The clones, meanwhile, precise and machinelike in their decision making, have been engineered to take no risks (the Germans have perfected this, of course, but never mind) and are ready to stomp on their frail human opponents with ruthless mathematical efficiency.

Thus, events are set in motion that lead to the ultimate showdown—as Nike calls it, "The Last Game." This isn't just a football match. It's Deep Blue vs. Kasparov for the future of world football.

Directed by Jon Saunders of Passion Pictures, the spot has a frenetic animation style reminiscent of The Incredibles. This makes some of the game footage feel a bit light on its feet, perhaps—the players seem bird-like at times. Still, every frame is gorgeously rendered. It really is like a mini Pixar film. The storyline, too, is nice and simple—grand yet silly and self-deprecating in classic Nike style.

Speaking of classic Nike—the spot clearly recalls Nike and W+K's legendary "Good vs. Evil" spot from the Euro 1996 tournament, in which a bunch of human all-stars battled a supernatural team of demons. The clones, it seems, are just the post-millennial version of pure villainy. "The Last Game" also obliquely references "Write the Future," with the players seen doing odd jobs after the clones put them out of work—much as they were consigned to similarly shameful obscurity as punishment for lackluster play in "Write the Future." (The new spot also has the by-now-familiar non-soccer-player cameos, though the presence of an animated LeBron James here feels quite superfluous.)

"The Last Game" also ties in to Nike's earlier four-minute spot for this World Cup largely through the soundtrack—"Miss Alissa" by Eagles of Death Metal.

Some will say the cartoon lacks the muscle and flesh-and-blood weight of real soccer footage. (Indeed, sports ads fetishize real action shots to an almost absurd degree.) But Nike is acknowledging here that "real" sports footage in advertising is hyper-stylized anyway—only one step removed from animation. Why not take it that extra step, particularly if you continue to keep the craft at the highest level?

In the end, while not as emotionally stirring as some other World Cup commercials, this one is a refreshing change of pace—a nice, unexpected left turn for the marketer in its endless celebration of the beautiful game.

Now, can we get to Thursday already?

Client: Nike

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Global Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke
Digital Director: Dan Viens
Copywriter: Alberto Ponte
Art Director: Ryan O’Rourke
Global Executive Producer: Matt Hunnicutt
Agency Senior Producer: Erika Madison
Production Assistant: Julie Gursha
Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz
Account Team: Alyssa Ramsey, Molly Rugg, Karrelle Dixon
Business Affairs Manager: Karen Crossley
Project Manager: Jordan Schroeder
Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples, Susan Hoffman

Production Company: Passion
Director: Jon Saunders
Writers: Jon Saunders, James Russell, Kevin Cecil, Steven Hall, Lucy Guy
Story Development Team: Andrew Ruhemann, Pete Candeland, Alex Webster, Brendan Houghton, Ryan Goodwin-Smith
Additional Story Assistance: Daniel Emmerson, Simon Griffin, Lee Hempstock, Rob Sprackling, John Smith
Development Creative Director: Pete Candeland
Executive Producers: Andrew Ruhemann, Alex Webster
Head of Production: Anna Lord
Producer: Ryan Goodwin-Smith
Line Producer: Adriana Piasek-Wanski
Production Coordinators: Anna Cunnington, Kate Goodwin
Production Assistant: Becky Perryman
VO Casting Directors: Claudia Hesse, Hannah Simons

Voice Actors
Scientist: Jonathan Oliver
Neymar: Bruno Garcez
Iniesta: Andres Williams
Zlatan: Adam Shaw
Rooney: Neil Fitzmaurice
David Luiz– Mauricio Brandes
Tim Howard: Tom Clarke Hill (also plays LeBron TVC VO and Football Commentator)
Cristiano Ronaldo: Hugo Nicolau
TV News Anchor: Victoria Lesiw (also plays TV Interviewer)
Fenomeno: Rhasaan Orange
Commentator 1: Jonathan Clays
Commentator 2: Tony Lockwood
Commentator 3: John Roder
Commentator 4: Bill Leslie
Hindi Newscaster VO: Sanghamitra Mandal
Mandarin Newscaster VO: Sun Ye
Spanish Newscaster VO: Alberto de Matteis

Animation Director: Mark Waring
Football Choreography Consultant: Andy Ansah
Head of CG: Jason Nicholas
VFX Supervisor: Neil Riley
CG Supervisor: Cesar Nunes
CG Coordination: Suzanne Forward, Derek Walsh, Amelie Zilliox, Mark Harper, Dave Powell
Additional Coordination: Carine Buncsi
Art Direction: Painting Practice, Cesar Nunes
Character Design: Jon Saunders, Alex Huguet, Gillian Reid, Leeroy Vanilla, Dan Lambert
Production Designer: Dan May (via Painting Practice)
Concept Art: Painting Practice, Daniel Cacouault, John Park, Thomas Scholes
CG Design Development: Jake Slutsky
Storyboards: Brendan Houghton, Yohann Auroux (clean-up)
Previz Lead: Xavier Zahra, Richard Perry
Previz: Mark Brown, Paul Cousins, Emiliano Nanfaro, Stephen Harrison, Daniel Adams

For Whitehouse Post London/New York:
Paul La Calandra: Editor
Joe Petruccio: Assistant Editor
Lisa Kenrick: Executive Producer
Lauren Hertzberg: EP NY
Nick Crane: Producer
For Passion: Victoria Lesiw
Additional Editing for Passion: Anne Monnehay, Tim King

Layout: Daniel Adams, Remi Cauquil, Anthony Martin

Character Modelling Supervisor: Alex Huguet

Character Modelling: Mattias Bjurstrom, Tom Bryant, Dan Fine, Julia Friedl, Craig Maden, Abner Marin, Angel Navarro, Alex Stratulat

Environments Modelling Supervisor: Ian Brown

Environment Modelling: Zahra Al-Naib, Florence Ciuccoli, Guillaume Fuentes, Jacob Gonzalez, Juan Carlos Gracia, Francois Mancone, Paco Rocha, Florent Rousseau, Vladimir Venkov, Sarah Zaher

Texturing: Ellie Bond, Amanda Bone, Katreena Bowell, Claudia Carvalho, Eva De Prado, David Domingo Jimenez, Lesley Rooney, Grace Stephens

Rigging: Andrew Butler, Chris Dawson, Morgan Evans, Maarten Heinstra, Maickel Pasta, Georg Schneider

Animation Lead: Conor Ryan

Magali Barbe, Antoine Bourruel, Cath Brooks, Wesley Coman, Catherine Elvidge, Rhiannon Evans, Aldo Gagliardi, Alex Grigg, Annie Habermehl, Rimelle Khayat, Boris Kossmehl, Karin Mattsson, Daniel Meitin, Florian Mounie, Nora OSullivan, Garrick Rawlingson, Alvaro Martin Saez de Parayuelo, David Sigrist, Milian Topsy, Rodrigo Torres, Marie Vorhoeven, Chris Welsby, Steven White, (Darren Walsh: Magpie)

Supervisor: Jamie Franks
FX: Sam Swift-Glasman, Junaid Syed, Dan Warder
Cloth: Ariele Podrieder Lenzi: Senior Cloth TD, Antonios Defteraios, Will Fife, Jayson King, Colin Perret, Michael Sofoluke
Hair: Chema Del Fresno, Kwai Ip (also cloth)
Crowd: Jonny Grew

L&R Lead: Christian Mills, Arnoud Machtou

Lighting & Rendering: Howard Bell, Yohan Cohen, Jacob Gonzalez, Patrick Krafft, Sebastian Mayer, Richard Moss, Camille Perrin, Francois Pons, Paco Rocha

Compositing: Svilen Aynadzhiev, Pavan Balagam, Andre Bittencourt, David Lea, Manuel Perez, Julien Record, Valeria Romano, Johnny Still, Alex Swann

Graphics: Stephane Coedel, Giles Dill

3D End Tag
Original 2D Design by ILOVEDUST
Sam Mason, Jon Saunders: CG Designers
Eve Strickman: Producer at Passion NY
Animation: Wieden+Kennedy Motion

Painting Practice
Production Designer: Dan May
Lead Concept Artist/Matte Painter: Rafael Martin Coronel
3D Matte Artist/Lead: Graeme McDougal
Matte Painters/Concept Artists: Antoine Birot, Nicolas Loudot, Tristan Menard, Carlos Nieto
Junior Matte Painter: Noemie Cauvin
Concept Artists: Justin C Hutchinson-Chatburn, Mike Shorten, Alex Fort, Xavier Ren
3D Artist: Matt Hotchkiss
Co-ordinator: Dora Sarkozi
Graphic Design: Gemma Kingsley, Erica McEwan
Junior Artist: Rodolphe Parfait

Football Reference Shoot
Andy Ansah: Choreographer
Tyson White: Choreographer
Tyler Blake: Project Manager
Gerri McCarthy: Live Producer for Passion
Marek Wesolowski: DOP/Steadicam Op
Ronaldas Buozis: SOP/Sony F55
Ralph Messer: Focus Puller
Josh Feder: Runner/GoPro
Jonah Sugden: Runner/5D Op
Nuria Perez: DIT

Football Performers (c/o Sports on Screen): Mat Mitchel-King, Louie Theophanous, Anthony Cock, Chris Piper, Joseph Holland, Aaron Clarke, Isa Hussain, Joel Ledgister

Mocap Shoot: Lottie Hope: Passion Producer
Phil Stilgoe: Mocap Producer
Stuart Haskayne: Mocap Supervisor
Joe Ells: Mocap Post Supervisor
Iain Silvester: Mocap Production Coordinator
Matt Parker: Sr Mocap Technician
Mocap Technicians: Ross Richards, David Bushen
Mimi Dulake: Mocap Production Asst
Goran Dimitrijević: Mocap Tracking Manager
Igor Kovačević: Mocap Sr Tracker
Mocap Trackers: Jelena Mitrović, Zoran Muncan, Miloš Knežević, Nenad Milosavljević

Sound Design: 750mph
Sam Ashwell: Sound Designer & Mix Engineer
Sam Robinson: Audio Producer
Phil Bolland: Additional Engineering
TX: Mike Bovill, Gerda Aleksandraviciute, Jeff Smith: TX

Passion Pipeline TD: Sajjad Amjad, Julian Hodgson

IT Support / Engineering Team
Daffer Al-Faiadh: IT Manager
Mani Singh: IT Engineer
Ilkan Ozturk: IT Engineer
Alex Pittas: IT Assistant

Finance & Accounting
Dennis Hobbs, Head of Finance
Kendrah Matthew, Grant Harris, Ben Davies

Runners: Kingsley Bailey, Fern Buckenham, Edward Bulmer, Linus Carlson, Fionn Guilfoyle, Raymond Hemson, Rishi Hindocha, Isabella Miroux, Shane Noonan, Alex Pittas, Phoebe Platman, Sophia Simenski, Paige Sullivan, Zachary Towlen, Phoebe Young

Editorial / :30 Trailers And Athlete Teasers
Editorial Company: Joint Editorial
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith
Post Producer: Ryan Shanholtzer / Alex Thiesen
Music Editor: Nicholas Davis
Lead Assistant Editor: Eric Hill
Assistant Editor: Alyssa Coates
Post Executive Producer: Patty Brebner

Finishing: Glassworks
Colourist: Duncan Russell
Smoke Artist: Aleks Ugarow
Executive Producer: Misha Stanford-Harris
Titles/Graphics: WK Motion / WK Studio

Music Company: Walker
Composer: Judson Crane
Executive Producer: Sara Matarazzo
Music Coordinator: Abbey Hickman
Licensed Track: Miss Alissa, Eagles of Death Metal

Sound + Mix Company: 750mph
Sound Designer / Mixer: Sam Ashwell
Executive Producer: Sam Robinson

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