Summer is coming, an important soccer tournament kicks off in Europe soon, so, as sure as night follows day, it must be time for Nike to release an epic football ad. But this campaign marks a fundamental shift in approach for Nike.
Although it builds on the feel of its hugely popular 2010 FIFA World Cup extravaganza "Write the Future," the new campaign, "My Time is Now" is a completely different journey.
"Write the Future," the work of Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, was cinematic in scope and had a coherent, compelling narrative structure. "My Time is Now," created by W+K London, has a very different purpose and goes against many of the natural assumptions we have about marketing campaigns.
W+K London head of interactive and innovation Graeme Douglas explains: "Instead of making a big ad for TV then putting together a bolt-on interactive version, what we have done is make a interactive film and experience, then created an edit for TV. That’s a fundamental shift."
Featuring a galaxy of football stars, the "My Time is Now" film shows swarms of youngsters taking to the pitch to challenge teams of older, established players in what starts as a France versus Netherlands match. It’s energetic, chaotic, cinematic, and breathtaking. The idea is to bring to life the "hunger of youth" to take on the world’s best. The young challengers don black and white tops and generally run amok. Basketball superstar LeBron James makes a guest appearance. It’s that simple.
Anything more revealing than that, you have to work for through the interactive content. So for anyone complaining that "My Time is Now" lacks the narrative structure of "Write the Future": that’s right, and it’s deliberate.
The ad debuted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Nikefootball.com and first aired on TV during Saturday’s (May 19) Champions League final—the zenith of European club football. The match between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, which ended after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out with Chelsea victorious, was considered important enough to halt proceedings at the G8 Summit at Camp David.
By the following evening 7 million people had viewed the ad on YouTube. Reaction so far seems to be divided between: "Awesome!" and: "I don’t understand what’s going on."
The interactive strands are not apparent in the TV version and that is totally intentional. It’s all about being hungry for it. "Kids have to be hungry to be successful at football, they have to work for it, have patience and the rewards will come. We want the user to have to do the same and we want the experience to evoke the same emotions. People will be rewarded when they dig in to the interactive content," Douglas says.
The rich interactive version invites users to explore a broad range of content via hidden "tunnels." Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola features in one strand, another focuses on Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom the user can perform a crunchingly tough workout, and there is a fully playable Sonic the Hedgehog game. And there are six other strands that range from a locker room, to information about Nike Better World.