"The Secret Tournament" (also known as "Scorpion KO") was a Nike advertising campaign coinciding with the 2002 FIFA World Cup. With a marketing budget estimated at US$100 million, the advert featured 24 top contemporary football players and Eric Cantona as the tournament "referee". It was directed by film director and former Monty Python actor and animator Terry Gilliam.
The campaign started in March 2002 with the tease phase of the campaign, featuring only a shot of soccer shoes and a scorpion. The early ads led viewers to a website where they could learn more about the Secret Tournament and play interactive games.
The concept of the advertising campaign was a fictional tournament involving eight teams of three of football's top players in a first-goal-wins elimination. The matches were staged in an enclosed pitch located on a ship with former footballer Eric Cantona acting in the role of referee.
|Triple Espresso||The Onetouchables||Toros Locos||Cerberus||Os Tornados||Funk Seoul Brothers||Tutto Bene||Equipo Del Fuego|
|Thierry Henry||Patrick Vieira||Fredrik Ljungberg||Edgar Davids||Luís Figo||Denílson||Fabio Cannavaro||Claudio López|
|Francesco Totti||Ruud van Nistelrooy||Javier Saviola||Lilian Thuram||Roberto Carlos||Ronaldinho||Tomáš Rosický||Gaizka Mendieta|
|Hidetoshi Nakata||Paul Scholes||Luis Enrique||Sylvain Wiltord||Ronaldo||Seol Ki-Hyeon||Rio Ferdinand||Hernán Crespo|
|Funk Seoul Brothers||0|
|Equipo Del Fuego||0|
|Equipo Del Fuego||1|
There are several different edits of the "Scorpion KO" commercials. There are four separate commercials for each match as well as an overall compilation of the matches and a condensed version of the compilation.
Following the run of the original advert, it was quickly followed up by a "Rematch" advert, featuring the two teams from the original final. In this script, the two teams played on a set representing the interior hull of the ship, no longer within a cage, and scored goals by hitting the bulkheads within a painted-on rectangle. Furthermore, as there were now only two teams remaining, the target was now to reach 100 goals. The two teams were said to have reached 99–99, meaning that the next goal would win; however, the previous 198 goals and other errant shots meant that the rivets holding the ship together had weakened, so when Luís Figo scored the winning goal for Os Tornados, there was a hull breach, water rushed in and the two teams had to swim for shore.
Following the airing of the commercials, in June 2002 an estimated 1 to 2 million children competed in matches following the Scorpion KO rules in about a dozen cities worldwide, including London (in the Millennium Dome), Beijing, and Buenos Aires.
Nike considered the campaign a success, with Nike president Mark Parker commenting, "This spring's integrated football marketing initiative was the most comprehensive and successful global campaign ever executed by Nike."
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