Secret Tournament

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"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,[1] 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.[2]

Campaign instalments[edit]

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.[1]

April saw the start of the Excite phase, with the teams facing off against each other, then moved into the Involve phase (see Impact).[1]


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.[3]


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


Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
Triple Espresso 1
The Onetouchables 0
Triple Espresso 1
Cerberus 0
Toros Locos 0
Cerberus 1
Triple Espresso 1
Os Tornados 0
Os Tornados 1
Funk Seoul Brothers 0
Os Tornados 1
Equipo Del Fuego 0
Tutto Bene 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.[citation needed]


Following the run of the original advert, it was quickly followed up by a "Rematch" advert, featuring the two teams from the original final.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]


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.[1][4]

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."[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Secrets of Successful Ad Campaigns: Lessons from Absolut, Nike and NASCAR". Wharton School. 25 September 2002. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "Marketers freely capitalize on soccer fever". USA Today. 2002-05-28. Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  3. ^ "Nike Secret Tournament". Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  4. ^ Porter, Hugh; Robinson, Simon (6 February 2002). "Soccer: A Cagey Game". Time World. Retrieved 20 February 2009. 
  5. ^ "Nike Promotes Three To Strengthen Brand Management Team". Sporting Goods Business. 2002-10-07. Retrieved 2009-02-24. 

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