World’s best ads ever #50: Nike hosts secret cage tournament with world’s best footballers
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
With an estimated $100m marketing budget, a cast comprising 24 of the world’s best contemporary footballers including Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Francesco Totti, a Monty Python member for a director and an Elvis Presley soundtrack, is it any wonder Nike’s ‘Secret Tournament’ commercial (aka ‘The Cage’) is remembered as one of the best ads of all time?
Dreamed up by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam and brought to life by Python’s Terry Gilliam, eight teams each comprising three of the world’s top footballers compete in a first-goal-wins elimination tournament (‘scorpion rules’) aboard a sinister-looking ship with the equally sinister-looking Manchester United star turned actor Eric Cantona taking on the somewhat unlikely role of referee.
Released to coincide with the 2002 Fifa World Cup, the TV spot was part of a cleverly conceived campaign that encompassed scorpion rules tournaments in cities around the world. According to Nike’s estimates, as many as 2 million children under 16 competed in matches in cities ranging from London to Mexico City to Beijing in June 2002, and the company’s president credited is as its most successful ever marketing effort. “This spring’s integrated football marketing initiative was the most comprehensive and successful global campaign ever executed by Nike,” Mark Parker said.
And Secret Tournament’s cultural impact didn’t end there, because it’s also credited with introducing Elvis to a new generation of admirers. The Junkie XL remix of A Little Less Conversation, the ad’s soundtrack, became a number one hit in over 20 countries on the back of the ad’s release.