When Nike releases an advert to promote their football boots, most often to coincide with a major tournament, commercial breaks became a thing to look forward to. Nike is one of those brands that manages to lead the way in producing ads that really do slap!
We decided to list (in chronological order) all of the adverts we could find in order to boost the nostalgia our classic football boots provide. These Nike soccer boot adverts are a trip down memory lane, a time when Nike held a candle to the glory days of footballers running around airports, secret tournaments, and espionage missions to retrieve a football. Which was your favourite?
1. 1996 GOOD v EVIL Match in Hell
The one that started it all.
In 1996, Nike produced a brand driven advert the likes of which had never been seen before in the football world. Yes, it looks dated now but the fact remains: without Good v Evil, there would be no Airport, no Cage, no Mission.
Nike's heroic players take on a team of demons from hell. As the Devil summons a pitch made of hellfire and his demon spawn team, we are introduced to our heroes:
Alongside bona-fide superstars such as Ronaldo, Romario, Paolo Maldini, Rui Costa, Luis Figo, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Ian Wright, is Mexican legend Jorge Campos and...Tomas Brolin.
The Swede had finished third in the World Cup two years previous, but in 1996 was in the midst of his ill-fated spell at Leeds United. As you can imagine, this isn't as slick as The Cage or The Mission, with it quickly cut together to show our players showcasing their talents.
The star of the show was Eric Cantona, who ultimately conquers the demon squad with a spectacular shot exploding through the chest of the opposition keeper.
2. 1997 Parklife
Before Nike shelled out $100 million on The Cage, they had to make do with a kickabout down Hackney Marshes.
Eric Cantona, Ian Wright and David Seaman celebrate Parklife - 1997
To the tune of the infamous Blur hit, Parklife grassroots football is superbly represented.
We are transported to various pitches, where each team has a star name in their ranks.
3. 1998 THE AIRPORT
Of all the modern football adverts, none features a soundtrack that befits the action better than Sergio Mendes’ ‘Mas Que Nada’, the song that became synonymous with the Brazil national team.
The superstars of that side - Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Cafu, Romario and Roberto Carlos among others - all feature as board commuters looking to waste some time before their delayed flight is due to leave.
Cue Ronaldo deciding to have a kickabout, and we follow them all around the airport producing tricks and flicks while they evade security. As ‘Mas Que Nada’ gets into full swing, so do the players, with Ronaldo at centre stage throughout.
The choreography is spectacular, and even though that is exactly what it is you still get the feeling that this is just an impromptu Samba training session.
This is all about Ronaldo, but the humour is present throughout, with Denilson’s cheeky face after nutmegging a luggage trolley, to R9 hitting the post at the end with the open goal.
4. 2000 THE MISSION
While Louis van Gaal became somewhat of a joke figure due to his theatrics as boss of Manchester United, they were perfect for the 2000 Nike commercial, ‘The Mission’.
Here, the eccentric Dutchman leads a group of superstars on a heist to recover a special football from a highly-guarded state-of-the-art museum.
Because “IT’S ROUNDER!”
From then on the players (and Edgar Davids in particular) become the stars of the show. The Dutchman is featured heavily from start to finish, as it is his signature dreadlocks which trigger the alarm, resulting in a samurai robot army waking up to try and take him and his pals down.
From there, we see a host of familiar faces including Nakata, Figo, Totti, Thuram, Dwight Yorke, Pep Guardiola, Andy Cole, and, crucially, Oliver Bierhoff, whose volley would take out the lead robot to prompt a dramatic explosion and a jump into a helicopter.
5. 2001 Nike - Freestyle Soccer
In the advent of Brazilian style, futsal, viral videos, breakdancing and of course freestyle football, Nike got the one and only Ronaldhino to lead on this front with his ubiquitous style.
Unfortunately this advert lead to kids everywhere deliberately squeeking their runners on different floor surfaces and breaking all sorts of furniture but that can't detract from what was a really popular commercial as well as a new era for football skills.
6. 2002 THE SECRET TOURNAMENT – THE CAGE
“Hidden from the world, 24 elite players hold a secret tournament, with eight teams, and only one rule: first goal... wins.”
When Eric Cantona takes over from the narrator to utter those last three words and we hear the first few seconds of ‘A Little Less Conversation’ by Elvis, we know this is going to be something effortlessly cool.
‘The Secret Tournament’, or ‘The Cage’ was produced by Nike as a promotional tool for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. It featured 24 of the world’s best (Nike-sponsored) players taking part in a fictional tournament aboard a freighter ship.
What Hollywood director Terry Gilliam put together would soon become a phenomenon, leading to absurd revenue for Nike’s new training gear, Elvis reaching No. 1 in 20 countries, and even an online video game.
Nike threw $100 million at this campaign and every dollar is there. From the direction, the location, the cinematography - this is every bit a Hollywood film, even if the longest version clocks in at just six minutes and 12 seconds.
The eight teams:
Triple Espresso: Thierry Henry, Francesco Totti, Hidetoshi Nakata
The Onetouchables: Patrick Vieira, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes
Toros Locos: Freddie Ljungberg, Javier Saviola, Luis Enrique
Cerberus: Edgar Davids, Lilian Thuram, Sylvain Wiltord
Os Tornados: Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo
Funk Seoul Brothers: Denilson, Ronaldinho, Seol Ki-hyeon
Tutto Bene: Fabio Cannavaro, Rio Ferdinand, Tomas Rosicky
Equipo Del Fuego: Claudio Lopez, Hernan Crespo, Gaizka Mendieta
With a few notable exceptions such as Raul, David Beckham, and Zinedine Zidane, Nike undoubtedly had the superstar edge over Adidas back in 2002, and flaunted their roster accordingly.
7. 2003 Stickman - Ronaldinho freestyle
This clip with music from Pharrel was such a big hit that "the stickman" even got his own line of clothing and training gear. Ronaldinho back again showing what he does best as one of the world's greatest football showmen.
8. 2004 Henry's House - Thierry Henry - Home Game
Theirry Henry was just trying to enjoy some dribbling practice in his mansion when all these professional footballers broke in and started trashing the place. Oh, and Manchester United hide in his closet apparently.
The advert sees Henry skilfully kicking a football around his house – wearing Total 90s, of course – while destroying windows and furniture in the process.
Henry thinks that he’s being chased by various high-profile opponents, including Edgar Davids, but when his neighbour looks out it soon becomes clear that it’s all in the striker’s head – he is actually playing football with his dog.
Some of the best moments include an “Ole!” after one particularly sweet skill in his living room, and Henry saying “Sorry boss!” after smashing a photo of him and Wenger on the day he signed for Arsenal in 1999.
But the most memorable moment sees a group of Manchester United players saying “boo!” to Henry before chasing him down the hallway.
Louis Saha, Tim Howard, Mikael Silvestre, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Nicky Butt were the United players waiting to surprise Henry.
Sir Alex Ferguson also appeared – although the legendary Manchester United manager doesn’t join in with the “boo!”, unfortunately.
9. The Mill - Nike (Euro 2004 The Other Game) Ole
An ad which saw Portugal and Brazil facing off in the tunnel before a big game. Luis Figo nutmegs Ronaldo and exclaims “Ole!”.
Queue everyone forgetting about the game and attempting to outdo one another with their trickery. This started a schoolyard revolution.
10. Ronaldinho – touch of gold 2004
The Nike Ronaldinho Touch of Gold "Crossbar" video - not so much an advert but a viral video cross bar challenge. This clip is one of the most-watched virals ever, with more than 50 million views globally. Featuring world-famous soccer star Ronaldinho hitting the crossbar no less than four times, without the ball touching the floor. The product on display is the Nike R10 football boot. A massive discussion and raging debate on whether the clip was actually real or computer-edited drove millions of interested viewers to the campaign online and was the most forwarded video that year.
11. 2006–2007 NIKE Joga Bonito TV Mini Series
Has football ever truly become “the beautiful game” it claims to be? Perhaps not, but Nike gave it a good go with their sensational Joga Bonito ad campaign back in the mid-noughties.
The phrase “Joga Bonito” is Portuguese for “play beautiful”, and the series of short videos was designed to combat cynicism in the game and promote skill and elegance. Here's just a couple from the series that you may remember during a golden era:
a. Ronaldo v Zlatan
A good decade later, and these two are still arguably at the top of their respective games: Cristiano Ronaldo v Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Both show off some silky skill, aided by some utterly useless defending, before Eric Cantona declares he can’t choose a winner. Thanks Eric, you had one job.
b. Brazil – the ultimate team
If only England had a couple of tambourines and a more laissez-faire attitude, they might be winning World Cups and creating lovely adverts. Wishful thinking, perhaps.
This is Ronaldinho at his tambourine-slapping, ball-juggling best, introducing the fake pass to the world. You know you’re going to lose when your opponents are literally filming an advert before they play you.
12. 2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Vs Bugatti Veyron in Nike Vapor IV
Just to demonstrate how fast Ronaldo was during 2008, he appeared in an ad for Nike. The sports brand was advertising the latest edition of their Nike Mercurial Vapor IV and Ronaldo was up against a Bugatti Veyron, in a race never seen before.
The Portuguese forward was still at Manchester United and had won the Ballon d’Or that same year. He suited up, started on the line with the car, and was ready to go. At the time, Bugatti Veyron was the fastest car in the world.
Ronaldo got a quick start for a second, but the car overtook him instantly. After 50 meters or so, both of them had to turn around and run the same distance again. Ronaldo had the advantage here, as the Portuguese could turn around quickly.
However, the car had to brake and go back while reversing. In the end, Ronaldo won the race by the thinnest of margins and celebrated gloriously. The race must have left quite an impression on his mind as Ronaldo now owns the Bugatti Veyron, which is worth a whopping $1.7 million.
13. 2008 New Pink Nike Mercurial Vapor Rosa – Franck Ribery
Franck Ribery has been the center of attention lately, well his pink cleats anyway! The French midfielder has been playing well lately in his Nike Mercurial IV “Berry” cleats. This is the latest advert about the cleats, in which Ribery is the Pink Panther.
For anyone that remembers the cartoon it is pretty entertaining. Nike are certainly pulling out all the stops with their campaign for the Pink cleats. Already the cleats have sold into the millions of dollars, with sales expected to jump as the Christmas season approaches. If you have the opportunity to buy the cleats I would take it now as these cleats are sure to sell out before Christmas arrives! Check out the video and let us know what you think.
That takes up to 2008 but check back later for part 2 of our Nike Football Adverts to see some more iconic videos including "Write the Future", "the Last Game", "the Switch" and more.