It's a World Cup year, which means only one thing for soccer's major international stars. They're about to feel an almost unbearable amount of hellish pressure.
Nike—which isn't a World Cup sponsor but always creates plenty of marketing around the tournament, just without naming it as such—has often focused on the psychic stresses of soccer superstardom. Its famous 2010 World Cup campaign, "Write the Future," was at least as much about the terrors of failing on the sport's biggest stage as it was about winning it all.
Now, Wieden + Kennedy has launched its first World Cup 2014 spot for Nike. Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it carries a variation on the same pressure-cooker theme. This time the message is: "Risk everything."
The 60-second spot below shows Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil's Neymar and England's Wayne Rooney preparing for the World Cup under intense pressure to perform well. In each case, the player is seen grappling with the idea of not measuring up. Who else but Ronaldo can carry Portugal? Can Rooney finally score a World Cup goal for England? Is Neymar worthy of Brazil's fabled No. 10 shirt?
A pair of Beats by Dre headphones would probably help each of these guys get in the zone. But since that's out of the question, they have to march to the beat of Ronaldo's footsteps—until, at the end of the spot, they can jog toward the field.
"The expectations—from a nation's hopes to the historic power of a shirt—are massive, but these are players who thrive on that responsibility," says Davide Grasso, Nike's chief marketing officer. "These players play on the edge because they know great moments usually spring from attempts to try something out of the ordinary. Think about Zlatan's overhead kick last year, or Rooney's goal last weekend. Those moments do not occur without fearless risk-taking."
Unlike "Write the Future," which was extremely witty in parts, this first "Risk Everything" ad is exceedingly somber—right down to the "Risk Everything" logo, which is a skull with the swoosh carved into its forehead and a flaming die and soccer ball on either side.
Luck, skill, hope, death. Let's just hope these three guys make it out alive.
Project: "Risk Everything"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte / Ryan O'Rourke
Interactive Director: Dan Viens
Copywriter: Rick Herrera / Jeff Salomonsson
Art Director: Stuart Brown / Johan Arlig / Sezay Altinok
Producer: Andy Murillo
Executive Agency Producer: Matt Hunnicutt
Account Team: Karrelle Dixon / Alyssa Ramsey / Ricardo Hieber
Business Affairs: Karen Crossley
Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff / Susan Hoffman / Joe Staples
Production Company: Reset (representing Academy)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Executive Producer: Simon Cooper / Jeff McDougall
Line Producer: Simon Cooper
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd / Alex Barber
Editorial Company: The Quarry and Rock Paper Scissors
Editors: Paul Watts / Mark Whelan
Post Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh
Post Executive Producer: Carol Lynn Weaver
VFX Company: The Mission
VFX Supervisor: Rob Trent
Flame Artist: Jan Cilliers
VFX Producer: Diana Cheng
Music+Sound Company: Original music by Squeak E Clean
Composer: Original music by Squeak E Clean; Justin Hori, Creative Director
Sound Designer: Johnnie Burn / Stephen Dewey
Producer: Carol Dunn for music
Mix Company: Barking Owl
Mixer: Brock Babcock
Producer: Whitney Fromholtz