The only way England will produce its own Cristiano Ronaldo is if the Portuguese superstar accidentally crashes into a young British fan at a game and—in a bit of Freaky Friday style body switching—inhabits the kid for a few years, until he can become a star.
That, at least, is one way to interpret the cute and amusing plot line of “The Switch,” Wieden + Kennedy’s epic Nike film for Euro 2016.
The work is classic Nike—that familiar mix of mix of flash and humor, with loads of cameos by other pro footballers and delightful details at every turn. (At 5:57, it’s also Nike’s longest-ever brand film, eclipsing 2014’s “The Last Game” by 30 seconds.)
It was directed by Ringan Ledwidge, a bit of a superstar himself, who counts the Guardian’s “Three Little Pigs” and Nike’s “Winner Stays,” from the 2014 World Cup, among his big advertising scores.
It’s a little odd for the world’s biggest sports marketer, in 2016, to have a head injury be the precipitating event in a long-form comedy. But once the action gets going, the production is pretty irresistible, and the circular pattern of the spot—anchored by The Heavy’s pulsating track “Turn Up”—brings everything nicely full circle.
The spot took five days to film in Spain, says Nike, which claims it was the most extensive brand shoot that the 31-year-old Ronaldo has ever done for any company.
American audiences also get a nice treat with the inclusion of Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. women’s national team midfielder, who is seen on stage in the light-colored suit in the award scene. (“She made the most of production pauses by switching into sneakers and juggling between takes,” Nike says.)
The other pros who make cameos are Raheem Sterling, Joe Hart, Harry Kane, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Ross Barkley, Ricardo Quaresma, Andre Gomes, Jose Fonte, Cedric Soares, Vieirinha, Raphael Varane, Anthony Martial, Sergi Roberto and Javier Mascherano.
Ronaldo’s costar, 16-year-old Gerson Correia Adua, was actually the understudy for the film, but took the starring role when the original actor hurt his leg in a car accident (he does get an appearance at the 5:15 mark).
Nike ads are highly anticipated around every major soccer tournament, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Now, if the English can employ some Ronaldo-esque wizardry for real, they might do a little better at Euro 2016 than they did in the last World Cup.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Director: Ringan Ledwidge