The 1998 Nike – Airport spot announcement kicked off a new vision of sports marketing.
We are in the late nineties. The american multinational brand Nike had begun to export its idea of brand through announcements carried out by the great stars of the NBA with Michael Jordan at the head. In the USA they had been advertising campaigns related to basketball for ten years, and the brand was in danger of typecasting.
It was then when they decided to throw themselves to sponsor teams and stars of an exotic sport for them, of which they practically did not understand anything: El Soccer. For this he created the division Nike Football and studied carefully the particularities of the soccer culture in each country where the sport king raised passions.
With a vision of advertising similar to the one made with basketball stars, he dedicated himself to signing with those footballers who offered something different to the world of football. Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Kluivert, Figo, Maldini, etc … all of them different players that marked the difference in their teams.
It was not until Euro 1996 in which Nike decided to hit the table with his ‘Good vs Evil’ that we talked about in his day. A spectacular spot with the top stars to which almost a special event was dedicated on European television the night of the premiere. Nike had entered with freshness and strength to the world of soccer.
During the following year we lived an interesting battle for the control of the rights of the players. Brands like Adidas, Umbro, Puma, etc. Were running to sign contracts with athletes to be their brand image and prevent the American multinational take control of sports marketing. But it was too late as they got the icing on the cake: the Brazilian team with Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Romario, Rivaldo, Denilson and their ‘Jogo Bonito’, name that precisely thanks to the Nike advertising campaign.
Then came the 1998 World Cup in France, a golden opportunity to show the world that Nike had come to dominate sports marketing in the world of football. And they made a spot that – without knowing it – would lay the foundations of what would be viral marketing 10 years later and that lived the boom thanks to the expansion of the internet.
The Nike – Airport spot locates the stars of the Brazilian team at the airport terminal waiting to catch a flight. The wait becomes endless and the components get boring. Until Ronaldo gives him to take the ball out of his backpack to start having fun with it. We see Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Denilson and Romario have a great time before the astonished look of people and security guards, performing diabluras for practically all the airport. Pure Brazilian magic. Even with Eric Cantona’s cameo incorporated.
The Nike – Airport spot had managed to relate the ‘Jogo Bonito’ of a mythical selection to its brand image. This way of understanding advertising, marketing, football and its stars catapulted Nike and positioned it as a leading brand in the sector. If you wanted to be someone important, you had to sign with Nike.