Legends Past and Present Battle in Nike's Gleeful 2022 World Cup Ad

W+K Portland cooks up some weird science indeed

It's an age-old debate in sports: How would today's stars match up against the heroes of yesteryear? And thanks to some nifty CGI, Nike and Wieden+Kennedy Portland put that discussion center stage—in a delightful World Cup film set to Oingo Boingo's 1985 classic "Weird Science."

After a couple of Back to the Future-y crackpots have the idea for a "footballverse," they get down to business, at first pitting current French superstar Kylian Mbappé against vintage Brazilian magician Ronaldinho—who's wearing an F.C. Barcelona jersey here, putting him in the 2003 to 2008 time frame.

But their showdown is just a small piece of the action, as the film soon expands to feature a dozen more Nike athletes: Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Cristiano Ronaldo, CR Jr., Edgar Davids, Kevin De Bruyne, Leah Williamson, Phil Foden, Ronaldo Nazário, Sam Kerr, Shane Kluivert and Virgil van Dijk.

Flashy yet playful, it's Nike Football at its best, as usual, on the world stage.

The spot ends with a rather cursory nod to the future of the game, but its unapologetic nostalgia is the real draw here. The ability though technology to mix and match eras is irresistible and carries the film throughout, even it lacks the kind of storytelling that drove classic spots like "Good vs. Evil" and "Write the Future."

" 'Footballverse' exemplifies Nike's long-standing belief that the future of sport has infinite potential—and encourages a new generation of footballers to prove it," the brand says in press materials. "Put simply, the game is never done. By championing incredible Nike players, past and present, 'Footballverse' also shows that every generation of athletes makes a unique footprint on the game, expands the sport, and inspires future generations to leave their mark."

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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