Mark Bernath talks about the “Write the Future” ad from Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam
When I first laid eyes on that epic "Write the future" Nike ad, my brain bubbled up with questions before the ad finished playing, The usual How'dtheydothat!?, to did I just spot a "Finnegans wake" reference in that the first shot and last shot could follow each other, starting the ad over again?. And of course how on earth did they get The Simpsons in there!?, as, hello, that was rather unexpected and really hilarious.
Luckily, Mark Bernath, the co-creative director for “Write the Future” from Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam decided to humor me and answer some of them. There are a millions details in the ad that entertain me, from Focus 70s hit "Hocus Pocus" playing during the Rooney bit, to the sudden selling of "Ron's Samba Robics" on infomercial TV, to Homers timely "Do'h!". This ad isn't just one idea, it's one hundred little ideas, in one single ad.
Db: How long did it take to shoot this ad given all the athletes featured? There must have been some major schedule bending to get time with each player.
Mark Bernath: From pre-production through to post, the 3-minute spot took about three months to make, start to finish. As you can imagine, the scheduling and filming of a spot like this is a difficult balancing act. This spot was particularly unique because we were forced to shoot while the football stars were in mid-season. I think the team would say it was a challenge to schedule, but well worth any headache in the end.
Where did you shoot the ad? I see many cities and Rooney in a caravan in some desolated place – you must have travelled the world.
Mark Bernath: “Write The Future” was shot across the world, in locations including Madrid, Spain; Manchester and London, England; Los Angeles, California; and Africa.
Ronaldinho stars in this ad, but he won't be playing in the World Cup. This tells me you began the process of making this quite some time ago - how long ago? And how did you manage to keep it under wraps for that long?
Mark Bernath: Like any spot of this magnitude, we needed to shoot well in advance of launch, which happened to be prior to the announcement of tournament teams. Regardless, “Write the Future” is a celebration of football moments with some of the best players in the world. Along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho is one of the most globally recognized footballers in the world. Nike is delighted that he is part of this global football campaign.
How does a producer pull off an ad like this? Just looking at it gives me a headache thinking of rain days, football star’s schedules, shooting locations etc. Did you have any time off at all?
Mark Bernath: Back in 2008 we had one day off. Kidding, it wasn’t that bad, but it was a big job and sleep was a luxury. We had two producers, Oliver Klonhammer and Elissa Singstock, who were simply amazing.
Is Roger Federer “Mr. Nice guy” like his reputation suggests?
Mark Bernath: Yes! I think the nickname couldn’t be more fitting. He could wear a cape and easily be “Super Nice Guy.”