On Nike's "Good vs. Evil."

In 1996, Nike produced what was probably the greatest soccer commercial ever–not that there are all that many in the running. It was called “Good vs. Evil,” and pitted some of the most famous footballers of the time against what appeared to be the Forces of Evil, led by a “dark warrior” who sought to destroy all soccerdom. I’m pretty certain that the commercial doesn’t depict actual events, but “il gioco più bello” was saved that day by the likes of Eric Cantona (before he got fat), Ronaldo and Luis Figo (before they got fat), Maldini (before he got old), Edgar Davids (before he wore sungoggles), and Jorge Campos (before everyone realized that he sucked).

Watching that commercial this evening brought back memories… of watching that commercial eleven years ago. It was heartwarming. But I noticed a couple things I hadn’t before. First, there’s only one fullback on the team: Paolo Maldini. That reflects either confidence or a poor selection committee. One fullback, one keeper, three midfielders, and five forwards do not make for a balanced lineup.

And that led me to notice a second, more significant point: one plus one plus three plus five is ten. Not eleven. Think about that. You’re getting ready to play against the minions of Satan in order to save the whole entire world (of soccer) and you line up a man short. Happily, Cantona was wearing Nike’s Ignite-The-Ball-And-Blast-It-Through-Demons cleats. I guess we got lucky on that fateful day.

4 Responses to “On Nike’s “Good vs. Evil.””

  1. gatorbob Says:
    March 8th, 2007 at 3:39 PM

That is indeed a great ad, but I can do you one better. Here’s one that was made for Carlberg Lager a few years back. It captures all the senses of the game better than anything else I’ve seen. See how many of this world beating “pub side” you can spot.


  1. VDV Says:
    March 8th, 2007 at 11:38 PM

I only recognized at least one of the Charltons (I thought I saw two, but I thought one was dead, unless I’m thinking of Bobby Moore), Bryan Robson, Beardsley, and Stuart Pearce. I assume Shilton was in goal because they mentioned “Peter” after the save on the free kick. If so, that’s the first I’ve seen Shilton since Baggio stole one from him in 1990. … I loved the look on the stripes’ faces! Classic.

  1. gatorbob Says:
    March 9th, 2007 at 3:29 PM

Both Charltons are in it and fortunately are still with us (Bobby Moore did die a couple of years back). Jack Charlton is the beanstalk who gets the yellow card in the ad. He played for my team Leeds United and was in the 66 WC winning side and later coached Ireland. Shilton is the goalkeeper who tips over the free kick. Bryan Robson, Beardsley (the one on the bike who they tell to “get those little legs going!”) and Stuart Pearce are in there too. Also on board are Alan Ball (another 66 winner), Peter Reid (who played for Everton and has coached a bunch of relegation fighters over the years), and Chris Waddle (the one who they are teasing with moving the van) who was on the 90 WC team that got to the semis – in fact Waddle hit the post in extra time against Germany – a goal that would have put England into the final. The line-up suffers from the same kind of imbalance that you noted in the “Good vs. Evil” ad. The line up would be:

GK – Shilts
Def – J. Charlton, Pearce
Midfield – B. Charlton, Reid, Robson, Waddle, Ball
Forward – Beardsley (?)

My favorite detail is that Psycho Pearce is wearing a slightly pinkish shirt as if he’s washed his kit with a red sock – typical of a pub side. Glad you enjoyed it.

  1. Que si Says:
    March 10th, 2007 at 12:49 PM

C’mon, it’s a commercial. is it really neccisary to provide this much commentary on 60-second ad? Maybe I’m not yet mature to know the inner workings of Nike’s ad agency. Or maybe it’s that I just don’t know that much about soccer and I’m trying to compensate by making fun of your latest post. Take you pick.