Cannes Lions

Nike Believe

AKQA, London / NIKE / 2019

Case Film
Supporting Images






The World Cup is the biggest stage for athletes - and brands. Competition is fierce on and off the pitch. Nike’s goal was to own the football conversation and drive energy back to the brand. Without a massive media spend and no official sponsorship of the tournament, the solution had to leverage the assets our young football-mad audience revere – athletes – and seamlessly connect back to key product innovations and create a smooth journey to commerce. Vitally, it had to remain fresh and relevant across the month-long tournament and be able to propel our athletes and brand POV ("Believe") into conversation at the right moments: the one-off, one-big-ad formula had to be reinvented.


"Nike Believe" stories were based on the self-belief insights of seven individual athletes told in clear, cogent stories that unfolded across the month-long World Cup. Content was deployed as pre-game and post-game reactives, creating a hyper-relevant stream of authentic, insightful and inspirational stories that had a clear brand POV: “Believe”. The strategy allowed different yet complementary athlete stories to be told alongside one another – all unique in style, tone and execution; all reflective of the athlete, their story, personality and performance in the tournament. So, rather than having a one-size fits all campaign designed around a big-bang AV spot, we mirrored consumer consumption behavior and were able to push our athletes to the fore and into conversation when it mattered most across the month-long tournament.


Our 14-20 year old football crazed global audience see through marketing - they want real stories told in imaginative ways. They are mobile first and consume content rapidly. The World Cup is not a moment – it is a month where conversation changes by the day, hour and minute. Ahead of the tournament, we interviewed seven Nike footballers (chosen for their on-field performance and off-pitch social currency – Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Kane, Mbappe, De Bruyne, Hazard and Asensio). From the insights provided, we identified an area of shared common ground – each draws on an almost irrational level of self-belief. And whilst they rely on that to elevate their game to the global stage, each has a wildly different source and origin of that self-belief. Based on each athlete truth, we created cogent, disruptive story-telling for each individual as a vehicle to inspire, enable and drive to commerce.


Each story was designed for the platforms where feverish conversation about the game takes place and was deployed when conversation begins to surge pre-game and spikes after moments of brilliance or post-game. Over 50 different athlete-led assets were created and deployed – utilizing a cocktail of animation, live action and still photography with the size of the athlete appeal dictating how many chapters their story had. Athletes were lined up weeks in advance to drive the campaign on their channels and maximise reach and authenticity. Assets were dropped on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat using platform functionality to create a seamless journey to deeper storytelling, product innovations and commerce on


470m+ views on NF & athlete IG. 50m+ engagements – 3x the competition. As Nike dominated on pitch, we capitalised off it with bespoke stories for every moment of brilliance. Over 50 pieces of unique content were created across social & with athlete & partner channel use helping to create huge reach and traffic (For example, a single Cristiano Ronaldo post driving 224k traffic to & converting 2% to members). Additionally, seamless journeys to commerce via swipe-ups saw significantly increased YoY sales.

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