Nike Kicks Off World Cup Campaign on Facebook

Nike today kicked off its FIFA World Cup campaign with a 10-minute film on Facebook, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney and other top soccer stars.

The video, viewable only when a visitor clicks the “Like” button, includes a 3-minute advertisement, called “Write the Future,” with some of those top stars. It intersperses on-field action with reaction from viewers all over the world. One vignette shows Rooney emerging from his home with a thick beard, and then overcoming doubters by winning the Cup for England and hugging the Queen. Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant and Homer Simpson also make cameos. That spot will eventually roll out on TV programming in 32 countries. Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., handles.

In June, Nike also plans to roll out an Elf Yourself-type online experience that lets consumers generate ripple videos and visuals from their own photos.

Since Nike is vying with Adidas for supremacy in the soccer category, both view the World Cup as a major battle. Herbert Hainer, Adidas’ CEO, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the brand had invested a lot in maintaining its World Cup dominance: “We have protected our ground fairly well. Football is, of course, the heart and soul of our company.” Nike is equally confident and, as a point of differentiation, is outfitting sponsored teams in gear made from recycled polyester to score some points with consumers who are concerned about sustainability.

Adidas, the official World Cup sponsor since 1970, launched its World Cup campaign several months ago from 180Amsterdam. Those ads promote specific products under an overarching theme that outlines the elements needed to produce a successful team, including speed and courage, under the theme “Every team needs.”