Nike Launches Soccer Game Online

In another example of mainstream marketers’ interest in “advergaming,” Nike has taken the wraps off a 3D interactive game in connection with its “Secret Tournament” advertising campaign.

Looking to promote its new soccer gear in a four-month-long TV and online campaign, the athletic wear giant this month will debut a series of spots airing globally and featuring 24 of the world’s best soccer players competing in a clandestine, three-on-three tournament. The dark, Fight Club-eqsue spots, directed by Terry Gilliam and designed by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, aim to drive traffic to NikeFootball.com, a site developed by i-shop FramFab Denmark.

At the site, the online game — “Scorpion Knock Out,” developed by Redmond, Wash.-based WildTangent — continues the action. Users take on the role of coach, assembling teams of players, training the players to hone their skills and practice special moves, and ultimately, competing in matches against the teams of other site visitors.

The best coaches are eligible to win a series of Nike products, including autographed game balls and “The Ultimate Nike Football Gear Pack,” including the company’s new Mercurial Vapor shoe and Cool Motion apparel.

Spending was not disclosed in the effort, but due in part to the huge media spend (and wide coverage of the campaign from soccer news sites), it’s anticipated to be one of the largest advergaming efforts to date.

“Players will be able to experience a fully interactive 3D game from Nike’s Web site broadcasted directly into their homes,” said WildTangent Chief Executive Alex St. John. “This will be the largest and richest broadcast gaming experience in history.”

WildTangent, which has done work for Nike.com in the past, uses technology that allows for the online distribution of full-featured video games, regardless of users’ Internet connection speed. In addition to its work for Nike, the company has developed games for Toyota , for Sony Pictures’ “A Knight’s Tale” and for “WarGames,” a series on AOL Time Warner’s TBS network.

The effort comes amid continuing interest by major marketers in advertising-laced online entertainment. In recent months, BellSouth and Honda both rolled out games promoting their wares: the Atlanta-based telecom’s “Spacesweep” touted its DSL service (players must shoot down nefarious dialup modems to score) while Honda used its “Adventure Race” to show off this year’s line of its CR-V, S2000, Civic and Civic Si vehicles.

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