Cannes Lions

Nike FC Presents the Footballverse

WIEDEN+KENNEDY, Portland / NIKE / 2023

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Overview

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Overview

Background

Nike Football’s overall business performance is tied to its World Cup performance. But the brand hadn’t made an impact at a World Cup since 2014 and was losing cultural relevance.

Recent campaigns focused on product and off-pitch politics. But its most culturally impactful campaigns, Joga Bonito, The Cage, and Write The Future were all rooted in passion for the game. In order to reclaim the brand’s stake in football culture, we needed to go back to its roots.

Idea

The creative idea is fairly simple: to end the GOAT debate, scientists in a secretive scientific research facility create a multiverse in which players past and present can finally play against each other. What nobody realizes is that the best is yet to come. As futuristic Nike ball from the future slashes through the scene the new generation steps out of the shadows, ready to prove the future is always better.

The Footballverse is a showcase of innovative technology: Digitally de-aging athletes from the past, CG renderings and VFX prowess. It's also a work of nostalgia: celebrating the 90s and early days of Nike Football, including the soundtrack.

But for the younger generations, our campaign was hyper-loaded with Easter Eggs gamifying the epic Nike film: QR codes, Rocket League cars, influencers, RTFKT NFT’s, cameos, and hidden layers.

TL;DR We hyper-loaded the anthem film with Easter Eggs that unlocked more football.

Strategy

This World Cup was different from previous years. It marked the end of an era. With Ronaldo and Messi nearing the end of their careers, the world was asking, is Football running out of GOATs?

A quick glance at football headlines would tell you football is doomed. Even the youth we interviewed felt pessimistic: “We will never see this again; football will change forever” - Iams, 19 Paris. The future of the game looked bleak and anything but joyful.

But FIFA’s data proved there’s always another GOAT. Nobody thought Thierry Henry could be out-paced until Mbappe. Or that Pele could be outscored, until Ronaldo.

We needed to show the next generation that there’s always another GOAT yet to come and inspire the belief that it could be them.

TL;DR Change the conversation from “Who’s the GOAT?” to the GOAT is always yet to come.

Execution

We’ve used an array of techniques to bring players from the past and present together at the peak of their careers. De-aging key athletes, 2D de-aging, proprietary AI face-building tool, CG environments and set extensions, and extensive FX work. We launched our campaign at the start of the World Cup and kept the conversation going with athlete stand-alone pieces during the six weeks following.

Outcome

The FootballVerse was the comeback Nike Football needed.

“Welcome back Nike Football” - YouTube Comment

The film garnered an astounding 3.2B impressions and trended #1 on YouTube, with the brand trending #1 on Google. It outperformed Nike’s engagement benchmarks by +4.5% and saw an increase of +.4pts in Nike’s Social Quality Score.

This cultural impact set the brand up for its most successful World Cup since 2014. Footballverse content increased traffic to Nike.com and the Nike App driving 3M impressions and acquiring 4.5K members. The success seen across paid, owned, and earned media led to $26.7M in sales demand (vs. $12.4M from 2018 WC) and an increase in overall Nike sales by +37% YoY.

This campaign even caught the attention of Phil Knight himself, who reached out to express his delight.

TL;DR We were more popular than the official World Cup sponsor and generated 33 x more traffic to Nike.com

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