Sporting events have a tendency to bring out the best in ad agencies – just look at the Superbowl, for example. Some people watch with the sole purpose of seeing what the creative advertising brains have managed to conjure up. And it’s no different with 2014’s World Cup in Brazil. While there have been many noteworthy, absurd, and downright terrible ads, there’s one that’s trumped the rest, with 62 million YouTube views in less than a month it is Nike’s viral video The Last Game. The ad not only wowed audiences on television but went massively viral through social media, it’s one of Nike’s most successful World Cup ads to date. We have the full length video at the bottom of this post but before we get to that, a little info on why this ad is so effective. What makes this video so unique is that Nike chose the animation route, rather than the tried and tested ‘inject as many big name stars and hope for the best’ routine. If you’re a small business owner looking for a similar impact, there are 3 lessons you can take away (and you won’t need Nike’s ridiculous budget). Hollywood Lessons Nike’s videos don’t jump into talking about their products straight off the bat. Instead, the video starts off like a Hollywood epic. You get a proper mini-movie that lures the audience in. They know they’re about to be entertained, rather than fall victim to a sales pitch. The Last Game tells a compelling story from start to finish. Audiences want to stick around to find out what happens in the end, which is just what makes it stand out from the rest. It’s not just pretty pictures and quirky music – you get actual substance to go with the aesthetic values. The entire premise is underpinned by a single inspiring message: Risk Everything. This embeds the company’s slogan in a subtle manner. It gives the brand an identity that people can relate with, association the product with something more than ‘just’ sportswear. Power of Animation Nike’s marketing department has come to a conclusion that we’ve known about for a while: animation packs quite a punch and it’s a captivating tool to draw in audiences. Nike realised that using CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) makes the mind a tad suspicious. People will be left thinking about the effects, not the message of the ad. Animation allows the mind to get into the story in-depth, without wondering whether there’s a line between reality and entertainment. With animation, it’s possible to take the viewer from an underground palace, footballers flying mid-air, sneakers being able to create smoke from Ronaldo’s lightning pace, not to mention the Indiana Jones-style underground palace. And this in turn allows Nike to associate their soccer boots with these adventures. Buy a Product, or Join a Cause? The ingenious methodology behind Nike’s sales pitch is something we can all learn from. Nike doesn’t blatantly tell you to buy a replica Ronaldo kit. It doesn’t say their boots will make you strike the ball as sweetly as Neymar. It doesn’t ram anything down your throat. Instead, Nike sells an idea, a cause. Instead of just admiring the ‘Risk Everything’ ideal, you can become a part of it. And having the right kit is just a part of that – that’s what makes Nike’s ad so clever. It takes the viewer on an entertaining journey, subtly embeds a message, and sells softly, inviting you to join in. All without a blatant sales pitch.