More football commercials that ushered in the new millenium.
After first featuring the best football boot commercials of the 90s and early 2000s, we move into the golden age of football boot ads – the mid noughties. Emboldened by the success of the previous decade, brands went full blast into creating some of the best ads ever made and one brand stood above the rest- Nike.
This was the start of social media and brands were still learning how to make content “viral”. The solution was obvious – make something really cool that people wanted to share. These ads dominated conversations and captured the imagination of fans worldwide. Some may say ads never got better than this. It’s hard to argue with this list below.
Nike – Brazil v Portugal (2004)
I’m in my 30s and still, today, we shout “Ole” when you nutmeg someone. That’s the cultural impact that this video had.
It starts with Luis Figo nutmegging Ronaldo in the tunnel before it ends in a massive skirmish between both teams in the depths of the stadium. Eric Cantona makes his customary cameo while Ruud van Nistelrooy also appears. It also makes me chuckle to see a rookie Cristiano Ronaldo overshadowed by the Galacticos in the few years just before he exploded into Nike’s biggest ever star.
The video comes to an abrupt end when Ronaldinho gets tackled hard by the referee in a bid to finally get the game started.
An infectious soundtrack, a star-studded line-up featuring Brazil and Portugal players (and Real Madrid team-mates), those lovely Mercurial Vapor 2s, T90s and some of the coolest kits Nike has produced. It was an instant classic.
Nike – Ronaldinho Cross Bar (2005)
With Ronaldinho at his peak, Nike made him the face of the brand. His weekly performances for FC Barcelona proved that he was a magician on the pitch but he weaved his best trick for Youtube’s first ever video to reach 1 million views.
It’s a simple premise. Ronaldinho’s been presented with his signature Nike Tiempos in an oh-so-gorgeous white and gold colourway. He puts them on and he started juggling the ball towards the edge of the penalty box. And then the magic happens. Without dropping the ball, he alternates between juggling the ball and volleying it against the crossbar.
It looked so real and many were asking themselves if it was a doctored video or did he really do it because, you know, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that the man could be that skilled. Years later, it was revealed to be fake but with Ronaldinho at the apex of his powers, you knew anything was possible.
This video was part of the popular Joga Bonito campaign – one which had Nike riding the wave of the popularity of their Brazilian stars, including the Barca forward. The campaign was all about playing with freedom and joy and each snippet was a delight to watch. Watch the video below for a compilation of the entire series but be warned, you’ll be up on your feet juggling a ball in no time.
adidas – Jose (2006)
The first (and only) non-Nike ad to make it to this list is adidas’ 2006 World Cup campaign called “Jose”. I loved that it told such a simple story of 2 bored boys (one of them the titled Jose) looking to play football in the backyard.
They summon their wish list of world-class players to make up their teams including Kaka, Beckham and Zidane before one of them calls out “Beckenbauer”. His friend laughs it off before seeing the legend trot out for the team to the awe of all the players. Next thing you know, Platini joins in the ranks and it’s a free-for-all.
What I loved about the entire thing, besides how cool the legends looked like “in the flesh”, was how the entire game felt like a typical Sunday game among boys. Unwilling players playing in goal, disputing whether the ball crossed the line and just pure manic fun, it stripped down what football was really about – just a good time out with your mates.
Nike – Take it to the Next Level (2008)
One of my all-time favourites is “Take it to the Next Level”, directed by Guy Ritchie. I loved his movies, Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and seeing a bonafide movie director take the helm of an ad like this was pure joy.
The entire video was shot in first person view and it charts the progress of a lower league player who makes it big at Arsenal and has his life unfold playing with Fabregas, getting knocked off by CR7 and going toe-to-toe with Materazzi. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of cameos and cool touches about being a celebrity before it culminates in playing for Holland in the Euros.
This was one of the most creative videos ever made and it’s oozing with style from start to finish. A truly blockbuster experience.
Nike – CTR 360 Maestri with Cesc Fabregas
Hands up if you owned a pair of the Nike CTR 360? Yep, me too. These boots were ace and it had a great marketing campaign to accompany it. The CTRs were a great concept and they had the ultimate player to be the face of it – a rising star in young Cesc Fabregas.
In this, he turns into a James Bond villain who has the perfect view of every angle and teammate on the field. He takes his time to view all possibilities before launching it for a young Jack Wilshere. Nike was able to sell all the great features of the boot, without even talking about the boot. And above all, made us all want a pair.
Now that’s a masterclass in communication.
PS: Nike if you’re reading this, the CTRs are due a limited edition remake.
Nike – Write the Future (2010)
Never has an ad got me so excited for the World Cup.
The video peeked into the life of each player and his country as he made his mark in the World Cup. The Cannavaro song, Africa erupting in ecstacy, Wayne Rooney as a wandering gypsy and the late Kobe Bryant. This ad was Hollywood. And it even featured one of the best boot colourways Nike has launched at a major tournament.
10 years on and not many ads could even come close to the level of awe that this inspires. You could just watch it again, and again. “Write The Future” is the best football ad ever made.
Got an ad we didn’t feature? Let us know in the comments below.