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Entries in Nike (5)


LeBron James: A Sympathetic Figure?

Picture Of Lebron James

One Great Season

NBA star LeBron James was the focus of ESPN's "Outside The Lines" show Tuesday, just hours before his new team, the Miami Heat, opens its season against the squad that could very well be its top competition in the East, the Boston Celtics.

It seems like the Lebron conversation takes a new direction every few weeks since he ended his free agency by signing with Miami in July. In addition to the start of the new season, this week's angle is the new Nike commercial in which Swoosh producers seem comfortable trying something new and fairly difficult: turning Lebron into a sympathetic figure.

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Nike Fails In Bid To Write The Future


Cup Quarters Devoid Of
Stars From Glitzy Mega-Ad

One Great Season

When Nike unveiled its three-minute Alejandro González Iñárritu-helmed World Cup "Write the Future" mega-ad, one thing amidst all the pageantry appeared just slightly out of place: Ronaldinho, prominently featured in the spot, didn't quite make the Brazil squad. It seemed a gross miscalculation on the Swoosh's part, considering the fading Milan maestro hadn't been picked for the Selecao since April 2009. But as the big names rolled out and the cameos piled up, there perhaps grew a sneaking suspicion that this first failure, emulated so pointlessly by Kobe Bryant, would in fact prove a sign of things to come.

And it wasn't just Ronaldinho. Theo Walcott, after all, missed out on a place in the England team, never to be the target of a misplaced Wayne Rooney pass, the most painfully prophetic aspect of the whole video. A week prior to the tournament, Didier Drogba, the first bold-faced superstar we see, suffered a broken elbow in a friendly against Japan, throwing his availability into question and ultimately spiking his influence. And France's Franck Ribery has had a few months to forget: he missed Bayern Munich's Champions League final for a reckless tackle in the previous round; arrived in South Africa under investigation for sleeping with an underaged prostitute (he faces up to 3 years if convicted); reportedly played a key role in locker room divisions and the sad mutiny against coach Raymond Domenech; and did next to nothing on the field.

EXTRA: Complete World Cup Coverage From One Great Season

These players suffered their misfortunes before the commercial ever aired. Others had to wait until they laced up those fancy purple and orange boots.

After a series of geriatric showings led to a group-stage elimination, it's safe to say that Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro won't be getting the C'e Capitano treatment from Bobby Solo and his sequined band of flying figurantes and cartwheeling dudes in wifebeaters.

Patrice Evra was apparently in it, too. But blink and you'll miss him, just like at the World Cup. His most notable contribution was to lead the aforementioned French mutiny against the man who'd named him captain.

Rooney at least made it to the Round of 16, though he failed to score and, I imagine, will fail to be knighted. But let's not bet against him throwing a lager bottle through his bedroom mirror. And while Cristiano Ronaldo did manage to put one run on the board in that 7-0 boxscore over North Korea, the people of Portugal may have to lay that giant statue on the ground if they want to truly commemorate his performance at this World Cup.

Indeed, it looked for a fleeting, glorious moment that Tim Howard and Landon Donovan, awarded a whopping split-second joint cameo, would turn out to be the unlikely success stories of the ad. That is, until a Kevin-Prince Boateng wormburner and some shifty Scouser strumpet killed that dream.

All that's left are three envious Spaniards: Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique. But Cesc might want to pick that paper back up as he'll need something to read while riding the bench. The latter two, however, are enjoying a fantastic World Cup, and have so far emerged as the only players worthy of such glitzy apotheosis.

So go ahead, write the future, fellas. But the way it's going, that future will see Paraguay in the semifinals.

Click here for Jeremy's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Advertising Giants Won't Drink To Empty Cup

Dutch Soccer Fans

Ambush Marketing
Keeps Nike, Bavaria
In The Spotlight

One Great Season

After a week of World Cup games, you probably think Nike is among the event's largest sponsors.

Considering many of the players are rocking boots from the Oregon-based apparel giant, and that not-so-subtle "Write The Future" television ad or a variation of it replays almost every commercial break, you'd think the Swoosh and FIFA enjoyed a formal and mutually beneficial partnership.

But despite its slightly inferior advertising presence, Adidas is actually the official equipment sponsor of the Cup. What practically amounts to ambush marketing has allowed Nike to reach the many millions of global Cup viewers without any trouble.

It's not the first time Nike has been accused of the ambush technique. At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, the Swoosh erected Nike billboards and even built a Nike village next to the athletes' official village, diluting Reebok's presence as the Games' official equipment partner.

Sponsorship of major sporting events is obviously big business, with seven- and sometimes eight-figure deals requiring protection in almost the same way heads of state attending this Cup need personal security.

Which is why Budweiser, the official beer sponsor of World Cup 2010, enjoyed watching event organizers Tuesday round up 36 young women sporting orange mini-dresses in a promotion for Dutch brewery Bavaria. Outside of the obvious reasons for enjoying watching 36 young women in orange mini-dresses, Budweiser liked this stunt even more because the hotties and their superiors behind the move were accused of "unlawful commercial activities" after they were kicked out of the Netherlands-Denmark game on Tuesday, according to the BBC.

Like Nike, Bavaria has prior experience with ambush marketing on the global stage. Click here to read about its 2006 World Cup strategy.


World Cup Notes: More France-Hate, Nike-v-Adidas & The Name Game

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

So you remember that World Cup Pub Crawl we put together last week? Well, at least one of those bars was proud to offer a free pint to everyone in the bar for every goal Uruguay would have scored against France on Friday. But the teams battled to a 0-0 draw, so no freebies were poured at Connolly's On Fifth in Charlotte.

The France-hate -- or at least this most recent case of it -- stems from Les Bleus' qualifying game against Ireland last fall. Thierry Henry committed a painfully obvious handball in the box that went uncalled and led to a France goal, allowing the French to escape with the victory over Ireland, and a spot in the World Cup.

Connolly's is an Irish pub, and a manager there named Jimmy told OGS in a telephone interview Monday morning that "even if France goes all the way to the final, we'll offer a free pint for every goal against them in every game."

The Parlour, an Irish pub in New York, also offered a round for all in attendance, but Uruguay's failure to find the net yielded no free vodka shots. The bartender who picked up the phone at about 10 a.m. Monday chose to give only one-word answers, but for those wondering whether freebies are possible for Thursday's France-Mexico game, "yes," the same offer will apply, she said.

NIKE DELIVERS AGAIN: Perhaps more than any advertiser in the world, Nike is known for its big-budget, high-energy, creative and colorful campaigns that in recent years have taken on the feel of movie trailers. I fell in love with the "Fate: Leave Nothing" ad featuring footballs stars LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu two years ago. And this year, the David-Koechner narrated "Nike Air" spot was genius throughout its 210-second entirety.

But the Swoosh may have outdone itself with its World Cup effort, a three-minute marathon released en masse Friday called "Write The Future." Football stars Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo appear in Wieden+Kennedy's latest masterpiece, directed by "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The spot shattered Nike's record of viral video views set this year with the surprisingly weak "Earl and Tiger" ad that earned 6.3 million views in its first week. "Write The Future" registered 7.8 online looks in its first week. At the beginning of this writing, it boasted 15 million views, but by now it's probably at 16 million.

Nike VP Trevor Edwards told the ad "is among the best we've ever done."

ADIDAS EARNS ITS STRIPES: At first glance, it may look like Adidas borrowed some gloss from Nike's Beaverton, Ore., corridors, but the German outfitter went a step further on the fun front in its own latest spot.

Sports fans, pop-culture addicts and geeks alike likely rewound their TiVOs several times Saturday afternoon upon the launch of Adidas' Star Wars Cantina ad. Snoop Dogg, David Beckham and slightly less A-list Jay Baruchel make cameos in this very slick two minutes of visual goodness. Daft Punk and Noel Gallagher also appear.

Back in February, a Huffington Post reader shared an impromptu clip of Snoop, Darth Vader and a couple dozen Stormtroopers parading through the streets of New York's SoHo district.

LET US HAVE SOMETHING: A few of us were gathered at Steve Susi's OGS World Cup Auxiliary Headquarters on Manhattan's Upper West Side when the Adidas spot debuted and we couldn't stop howling. Then this conversation unfolded:

Steve: "It's not three minutes, but second for second, that was way better than the new Nike ad."

Cath: "Something like that will always turn you men into giddy little boys."

Darian: "We don't have 'Sex & The City.' Let us have something."

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL 101: Specially marked diving areas? Marigold cards, instead of yellow? And a goalkeeper's hands bursting into flames? If you're new to soccer, this very helpful diagram from The Onion will get you caught up.

THE NAME GAME: Want to know what your name would be if you were a Brazilian football star? No need to wonder; find out right here. PS-Mine would be Wiseto Santos.


World Cup Notes: Buddle Shines, Ball Blues & Nike

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

With Jozy Altidore out injured, Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley each had opportunities to show their stuff to Bob Bradley in the USMNT's tuneup against Australia on Saturday. It was a classic example of one player seizing the opportunity, and the other ... well ... slotting it wide.

Buddle clinically finished two balls in the first half, but Findley shot wide after rounding the keeper and later blazed off the bar in a goalmouth scramble when both should have been put away. At this level, solid chances created simply must be converted.

Buddle, who has been hot for the L.A. Galaxy this season, showed how to do it. Real Salt Lake's Finley showed why his surprise inclusion in the final Cup roster was questionable. Never thought I'd be saying this, but ... Brian Ching, anyone?


As the World Cup ball controversy bounces on, we had more glimpses on Saturday of how the orb may impact the upcoming games. Australia keeper Mark Schwarzer looked none-too-sure of himself in the first half. The sun also may have been a factor, but the big Aussie offered nothing on Buddle's fierce drive and awkwardly fumbled a cross out for a corner.

At the other end, Tim Howard got down to parry a tricky crank that had movement as well. We also saw several field players struggling to judge some of the higher-flighted balls. Even if Ballgate is much ado about nothing, it's fairly obvious it's put a dent in the keepers' confidence.

All this would lead us to believe we will see quite a few gaffes/oddities when the matches start this week. While it's true that everyone plays with the same ball and it will be the same for all teams, it won't be cool to see matches decided on flukes. Let's hope it doesn't happen, at least not much.


As the U.S. team continues to try to carve out some sort of identity in the world game, its kit flounders to find some sort of relevance. Year after year, Nike cranks out the most boring designs in the game. And the Swoosh seems to save some of its least creative efforts for the good ol' U.S. of A. Sadly, this Cup is no different. Same old, nondescript, boring all white for the Yanks. Even the Aussies' green and gold looked more like a training top than a proper kit top. Well done, Nike.

When you flip on a match, it takes no time to identify the yellow of Brazil, the blue and white of Argentina, the orange of the Netherlands or the blue of Italy or France and on and on.

The USMNT needs this same sort of color identification, preferably with color. The nod to the 1950 team is cool, but sadly and predictably muted. A blue sash would obviously bring too much color to the party, so Nike opted for white on white? Gray on white? I have no problem with the away shirt, which looks fine. But then again, it has color! Now I'm not suggesting a return to the denim vomit or acid-trip stripes of 1994, but we need to develop our own iconic design that is easily and instantly recognizable. Just say no to being to world football what Penn State is to college football. Leave the all-white stripe to Real Madrid.