12 of the best Nike football adverts ever!

Football fans around the world get excited in anticipation as the build-up to a major football tournament begins.  Not just for the football, but to also see what great advert Nike have released for highlighting their football kit, football boots and footballs ahead of the start of a European Championship or World Cup.

Direct Soccer looks back through the years at Nike’s memorable football adverts from their beginnings in 1994 to the last World Cup in 2014.

1994 - The Wall

[video width="540" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-The-Wall-1994.mp4"][/video]

The World Cup in 1994 took place in the United States, breaking new ground in football’s attempt to become a truly global game.  Nike began to heavily endorse players at this time supplying football boots to a lot of top players.  Their advert for 1994 was “The Wall”, which featured star players of the time like Eric Cantona, Ian Wright, Paolo Maldini and Romario being super-imposed onto buildings in Manchester, London, Milan and Rio, sending the ball on the way to Brazilian playmaker Bebeto firing a volley past Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos into a neatly placed Nike sign.

1996 - Good vs Evil

[video width="454" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Good-vs-Evil-60-1996.mp4"][/video]

Nike’s next major football advert was the Good vs Evil campaign in 1996.  Featuring stars like Maldini, Wright, Figo, Kluivert and Ronaldo, the footballers took on a team of masked madmen in a Coliseum stadium set in hell – although for taking on a team of bad guys, it was only Wright that seemed to fall foul of the referee – and the advert ended with Cantona flicking his collar up, saying Au Revoir, and blasting a fireball into the winged goalkeeper.

1997 - Parklife

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Parklife-.mp4"][/video]

Nike were becoming a brand associated with total football, and included teamwear in their range from 1997.  Their classic advert of the time featured the likes of Cantona, Wright, David Seaman and Robbie Fowler playing Sunday park football on London’s famous Hackney Marshes pitches, to the soundtrack of Blur’s Parklife.

1998 - Brazilian Football - Airport Style

[video width="480" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ronaldo-Brazilian-team-Airport-football-for-Nike-commercial.mp4"][/video]

Probably the best Nike football advert, or at least the most famous, was the Brazil team playing football in the airport in 1998.  Featuring a young Ronaldo, touted as the best player in the world, and other stars like Roberto Carlos and Denilson, the team showcased their skills around the airport, dodging security guards and aeroplanes before Ronaldo had an open goal (made with metal railing posts) and hit the post.

2000 - Soccer vs Ninjas

[video width="384" height="288" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Banned-Commercials-Nike-Soccer-vs-ninjas.mp4"][/video]

Nike’s next campaign was for Euro 2000, and set the footballers up against a team of ninjas.  With Louis van Gaal leading the players, they attempted to steal the new Nike football (Geo Merlin) from a huge building guarded by hundreds of ninjas.  Edgar Davids led the team inside the building, with backup provided by the likes of Figo and Guardiola.  The video, which must have been Nike’s biggest spend on a football advert at the time, ended with Davids and Oliver Bierhoff kicking the ball out of a window into a waiting helicopter, jumping out just as the building exploded, presumably leaving the rest of their team-mates dead and buried.  (No footballers were harmed in the making of this video).  Due to the video’s nature, it was banned in the United States.

2002 - The Cage Secret Tournament

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Elvis-Presley-vs-JXL-A-Little-Less-Conversation-Official-NIKE-Commercial-Video.mp4"][/video]

Nike were now pushing the envelope each time they released a new advert, and for the World Cup in 2002 they had the Secret Tournament, which involved star players playing 3v3 in a cage on a ship, with the whole tournament being organised by Eric Cantona who puts in a great performance as the tournament’s referee (a common theme of the Nike adverts for a good number of years was that the French maverick always seemed to make an appearance).  Nike’s biggest ever stable of players took part in this great advert, with teams made up from a who’s who of world football like Paul Scholes, Francesco Totti, Ronaldo and Thierry Henry, with the French star scoring the winning goal.  This advert included a track from Elvis Presley.

2004 - Olé!

[video width="480" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Advert-Portugal-Vs-Brasil.mp4"][/video]

For Euro 2004, Nike had the “Ole” campaign.  No, it wasn’t a tribute to Solskjaer, but the sound the players made when they performed a piece of skill against their opponent.  Portugal were lined up to play Brazil, but in the tunnel Luis Figo nutmegs Roberto Carlos, and ends up kicking off a pre-match battle of skills between the two sides that takes place inside and outside the stadium (where Cantona appears again) before heading onto the pitch, where Ronaldinho shows off some ridiculous skills before being slide-tackled by the referee who wants the game to actually kick-off.

2005 - Ronaldinho

[video width="640" height="330" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Football-Presents-Ronaldinho-Crossbar-Remastered.mp4"][/video]

The next year Ronaldinho showcased more of his skills while promoting his Joga Bonito football boots, doing keepy-ups and hitting the crossbar (this was real, it wasn’t CGI influenced like most of us thought) 4 times in a row.  This advert was the first film to reach 1 million views on YouTube.

2008 - Take it to the next level!

[video width="466" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Take-It-To-The-Next-Level-Directors-Cut.mp4"][/video]

In 2008 Nike’s advert campaign was “Take it to the next level”.  Made from the viewpoint of an amateur player playing park football in Nike Striker kit, he scores a free-kick, is discovered by Arsene Wenger, signs for Arsenal, plays against Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and Barcelona, makes the big time and makes his debut for the Netherlands against Portugal.

2010 - Write the Future

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/NIKE-WRITE-THE-FUTURE-FULL-LENGTH.mp4"][/video]

2010’s World Cup took place in South Africa, and the advert Nike brought out was called “Write the Future”.  The advert starts off with Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba making his way to goal about to score, only to be stopped by a Fabio Cannavaro clearance off the line that leads to the Italian defender becoming a huge star in Italy, worshipped by millions with his own television show.  His clearance lands at the feet of Wayne Rooney, who dribbles through the midfield only to give the ball away to Franck Ribery.  Rooney then sees his life change for the worse, becoming hated by fans in England, working as a groundsman and living in a caravan.  Rooney fights back to tackle the French player at the last second and his life changes, he’s knighted by the Queen, hundreds of babies end up called Wayne, and he’s a hero again, even destroying Roger Federer at table tennis.  Brazil player Ronaldinho then mesmerises the opposition's defence with his step-over skills, ending up having millions imitating him on YouTube, a Ronaldinho Samba-Aerobics DVD is made, and basketball star Kobe Bryant celebrating a basket by doing the step-over dance.  The advert finishes with Cristiano Ronaldo blasting a free-kick, after he’s thrilled the crowd with his skills and a cartoon version nutmegging Homer Simpson!

2014 - Winner Stays and The Last Game

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-commercial-winner-stays-on-ft-Ronaldo-neymar-hazard-Rooney.mp4"][/video]

In 2014 Nike pushed the boat out with not one, but two great football adverts.  Winner Stays starts with a boy turning up for a game at his local park with his mates, he says he is Cristiano Ronaldo and his opponent claims to be Neymar Jr.  Cue scenes of unbelievable skills from the likes of Rooney, Ibrahimovic and Hazard.  After Ronaldo scores a great goal and taunts an opponent, the scene transfers to a large stadium where the boy tries to out-do Ronaldo pointing to his new boots (Ronaldo’s are better) before the action continues, players like Pique, Pirlo and Courtois taking part.  The video ends with Ronaldo about to take a penalty before being shoved out the way by a youngster who decides to risk everything by taking the penalty, and scoring.

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="http://www.directsoccer.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Nike-Football-The-Last-Game-ft.-Ronaldo-Neymar-Jr.-Rooney-Zlatan-Iniesta-more.mp4"][/video]

For the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, Nike’s Risk Everything campaign included an animated advert called the Last Game.  8 players suddenly disappear from the game after an evil genius makes a team of clones, forcing the real players to take normal jobs (Rooney becomes a fisherman, while Cristiano Ronaldo ends up working as a mannequin in a shop window).  It needs Brazilian legend Ronaldo to come to the rescue and get the players together and battle to beat the clones and revive their footballing careers.

So what have Nike got in store this summer ahead of the European Championships in France?  Hopefully all should be revealed soon but one thing is for sure, based on these classic adverts, you can be sure that Nike will again produce a special and memorable advert.