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National Television Scores Viral Campaign For Nike Soccer Shoe

Produces high-impact promo for new professional soccer shoe (March 02, 2006)

In order to make the snake for the Nike spot the creatives at National Television studied the properties of the shoe and set out to design the snake based on the actual materials and characteristics of the cleat.

In order to make the snake for the Nike spot the creatives at National Television studied the properties of the shoe and set out to design the snake based on the actual materials and characteristics of the cleat.

As part of an all-encompassing viral ad campaign, Los Angeles-based National Television, a collective of designers, animators and illustrators, beat out three other design companies to produce the high-impact promo for a new professional soccer shoe for Nike.

The goal was to bring to life the new Nike soccer cleat, called the Mercurial Vapor III, and give it an alter ego character that could communicate its features and benefits to the avid soccer player the world over. (The campaign can be seen at HYPERLINK: or,us,0;products,0)

Working with Nike the team came up with a photo realistic cobra that acts as a metaphor for this super agile shoe. Although Nike had given National Television the brief to incorporate a snake into the campaign it was up to the creative team at National to invent and design an unforgettable snake to drive the message home.

?Nike gave us complete creative freedom and trusted that we would come up with a great graphics solution?a solution that would keep people coming back to watch again and again, said Steiner Kierce, head of production for National Television. ?They had a notion of how the snake was connected to the shoe but they wanted us to flesh it out.

Chris Dooley, Co-Owner and Creative Director for National Television said: ?Internally Nike had come up with this correlation with the shoe and the snake as the perfect metaphor to communicate the idea of a ?quick strike, which in soccer means to out-maneuver the opponent and go in for the goal.

The spot
The spot opens on the mid-section of a silvery white snake coiling toward the camera. The camera then cuts to the snakes head, specifically its red eye as it is shown dramatically dilating. The camera then pulls back to show the snake quickly slithering through the silhouette of grass to suddenly lift its front part of its body and flair its head in cobra fashion.

It becomes subtly clear that the snakes veneer is actually made up of the shoe material shown throughout the :90 spot such as the leather, the laces, the carbon fiber heal, the cleats and gold color mesh.

?The fangs start out as cleats and then morph into longer, sharper fangs, said Kierce. ?The piece itself is taking this exquisite shoe from NIKE and giving it a personality and face; in this case the snakes face, and infusing this character with the components that make up the shoe.

As the snake looks at the camera in full regalia it begins to rotate showing the back of its head revealing the famous Nike logo in black on both sides of its hood. The cobra then rotates around and sprouts fangs that strike out several times at an imaginary victim.

Again, the camera shows the snake coil its body and then zooms in on the snakes mouth where its left fang drips venom into a puddle that reveals in its reflection, in place of the snake, Ronoldo, the Brazilian soccer sensation. The snake then pulls back as the camera circles around and the cobra strikes one more time to expose the shoe for the first time.

?Our job was to take the quality of the shoe and translate that into this genetically engineered, scary snake, commented Dooley. ?Our story was told solely through the snake and a black background.

The Snake
In order to make the snake the creatives at National Television studied the properties of the shoe and set out to design the snake based on the actual materials and characteristics of the cleat.

The team then launched into the concept phase of the project where they came up with artwork on how the snake would look. They asked questions like, ?would the snakes face take on the look of the toe of the shoe? Would the fang start out as the base of the cleat and grow into a long fang, and would the tongue look like the lace of the shoe?

The answer was yes to all the questions above and more. The team wound up with this beautiful, pearlescent, silver and gold-speckled cobra that mirrored the primary colors of the shoe and the primary color of the brand.

?We designed a number of concept sketches and some amazing storyboards, said Dooley. ?We wanted something that would appear scary and real. During the pitch we showed Nike test animations on how the snake would move and tried to sell them on the idea that not only have we designed the snake but here is how we see the snake behave.

The Job
Once the team was awarded the job it set out to write the story for how the snake acts and interacts with the shoe. Modeled and animated entirely in Maya and composited in After Effects, the entire production was CG based.

In the original design, National Television came up with showing the snake slithering out of a forest where the viewer catches glimpses of the scales, sees the eye dilate and watches it slowly wind its way into an abandoned city. The viewer is then left wondering where everyone is -- then the snake enters the citys soccer stadium where thousands of city dwellers have congregated to watch the game.

?That was the original boards, said Dooley. ?Ultimately, Nike realized the spot was more about the snake and the product and brand and anything other than that would distract from the main message. We took a huge leap forward with these particular boards and ended up reeling ourselves back to realize it would be a better spot if we showcased the snake and the shoe rather than showcase the environment.

Once they knew what the snake was going to look like it became a character animation job; designing the character, modeling the character and then texturing and lighting the character and ultimately rigging and animating it.

?Once you have your model built and your textures in place and lighting done you can animate it pretty readily, Dooley added.

While CG rigs for human-proportioned characters are fairly common, designing a skeleton for the body and mouth of the snake was new territory. Theres points where the snake rears back on itself and looks like its creating an ?s figure which is what you see a cobra do when it is ready to strike. All of this was part of the custom-rigging process.

?I really like the simplicity of the piece, said Kierce. ?The design translates over to the website and cross platform and other multilevel uses. It can also be used for print campaigns and billboards if desired.

?We love working with Nike and on this project they were able to push us to be more creative and go into a direction that was more clear and specific to their needs, concluded Kierce.

National Television
5514 Wilshire Boulevard
6th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90036


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Related Keywords:National Television, Nike, designers, animators, illustrators, Maya, After Effects, character animation, modeling, texturing, rigging,


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