June 20, 2006


Easy things to criticise about this new ad for Nike, appearing in the press on the day of England’s final group B match in the World Cup tournament: mindful of the threat of hooliganism, it’s too aggressive; Wayne Rooney looks like a blood-soaked thug; the pose is possibly blasphemous…
But on the other hand, I’m surprised at myself for liking it. Rooney is an ugly little runt, but he’s more interesting than the pretty Beckham. He is more like the ordinary young bloke in the street.
Such a pose with the Cross of St. George would have been too provocative a few years ago, but Englishness is becoming aggressively fashionable. Saint George’s Day is starting to get noticed.
There’s a strong opinion that the mood is a backlash against the Scots, who will support any team except England (which is fair enough – football at club and national level has always been tribal).
It’s an interesting coincidence that the ad appears on the day that English unhappiness about Scottish political domination is reported. It may be hard to believe for anyone not connected with the UK, but the English feel hard done by; this Braveheart-style pic by agency Wieden & Kennedy just about catches the mood.
The curious bit is the familiar slogan: Just do… what? The answer might not appear on the football pitch.

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