Wieden + Kennedy, London, team up with Aardman Animation and Korean artist, Coolrain, to create a new film featuring FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta as a ‘puppet master’ on the pitch.
The animated ad shows a puppet of the Azulgrana maestro blowing past opponents and setting the tempo in the midfield on a miniature football pitch.
In the collaboration between Wieden & Kennedy London, Aardman Animation and French-Canadian director, Patrick Boivin, a marionette Iniesta skilfully manoeuvres around the soccer field, dodging players from the opposing team until he faces his final opponent - the goalkeeper.
The puppet's mastery over the football is a metaphor for the power of the Iniesta shoe, as shown in the surprise ending of what is a refreshing change from the cinematic style epics that are usually associated with Nike Football.
Patrick Boivin animated the spot, a self-taught French-Canadian director who made the leap to filmmaking after he discovered it was a quicker, more efficient way of telling a story than his laboriously drawn comics. Boivin, who is represented by Aardman Animation, created the commercial using stop motion techniques.
Image: Patrick Boivin on set for Nike Football.
The marionettes themselves were created by Korean artist, Coolrain, who has collaborated with Nike before, including an exhibition called "Relive the Dream" where the artist created figures of basketball players LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
In the film, Iniesta wears Nike’s completely re-designed CTR 360 Maestri III; boots designed for the midfield maestro. Nike claims the "Maestri" is the boot favoured by midfielders like Iniesta who rely on innovative performance features to enhance their control of the ball, and therefore the game itself.
He was also the face of a 2011 Nike "Take Control" spot for the CTR 360 Maestri II shoe.
On shooting and starring in the video, Iniesta said: "It was fun to shoot - it is always good to do something a little different from the norm."
As for his puppet doppelganger, the player was keen to emphasise his role as puppeteer rather than puppet. "Well, I obviously don’t consider myself to be a puppet but you always try to transmit the person you are on the pitch. It’s something I like to do," he says. "I like the puppet. I’ll look after it with affection."
The timing of the ad couldn't be any more more perfect, as Iniesta was recently crowned Uefa’s Best Player in Europe, having already been named the Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament.
Image: Korean artist Coolrain has previously collaborated with Nike Basketball for their "Relive the Dream" exhibition.
Video: Behind the scenes of the animated spot for Nike Football.