Nike launches head-spinning Women’s World Cup ad

The sports giant’s campaign, What the Football, celebrates the stars of the game with frenetic pacing to match the buzz around this year’s tournament

With the Women’s World Cup only a few days from kick off, Nike’s campaign film, What the Football, has arrived with a bang. The ad opens with a father and daughter watching the 1999 World Cup final between the US and China. As Brandi Chastain’s penalty lands in the back of the net, sending the US to victory that year, the dad slips and is sent 24 years into the future, waking up in 2023 like a bewildered Rick Rubin.

Set to Who’s That Girl by Eve, the ad spotlights 11 footballers, including Australia’s Sam Kerr; Brazilian star forward Debinha; Megan Rapinoe, the outgoing face of the US side; and England’s Chloe Kelly (whose iconic Euros 2022 celebration echoed Chastain’s in 1999). The clips have been teased by the players over the last week or so, but have finally come together into one film in time for the tournament.

The film chops and changes to mirror the daughter’s analysis of this year’s stars, as she tries to bring her dad rapidly up to date. The edit dips into slow motion as she explains how Kadeisha Buchanan “controls the tempo”, while Grace Geyoro’s “reliable delivery” is likened to a product being seamlessly manufactured, ordered and shipped.

What the Football evokes the chaos of cultural sensation Everything Everywhere All At Once, and picks up the multiverse themes seen in Nike’s star-studded ad for the Men’s World Cup last year.

It’s a joyful take on the women’s game from the brand, which playfully tackles the gaps in audiences’ knowledge and the fact that women’s football has long been overlooked. When Brandi Chastain hands the dad a cake that reads ‘Congrats on waking up’, there’s a knowing wink at the audience: the dad in the film has been unconscious for over two decades, what’s everyone else’s excuse?

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
ECDs: Caleb Jensen, Craig Williams
Creative Directors: Kevin Steele, Pedro Izique
Directors: Alaska, Fleur Fortune, Matthew Frost, Gary Levesque
Production Companies: Iconoclast, Psyop
VFX: Kevin, Selected Works, The Mill
Animation: Wizz