5,500 balls maketh a footballer

One of the things I most like about Nike’s marketing is the level of brand experience it creates. Rather than sitting back, in its squeaky clean trainers as the “big fish” of sportswear, Nike continually attempts to re-energise the brand, get muddy with the activity and buzz surrounding sport events, and give consumers something to chat and tweet about. This “ball man” is exemplar of this – standing over 20 metres high in the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, it demonstrates Nike’s ability to produce a retail experience tailored to products on offer and reflect an attitude and a commitment to quality that are taken straight out of Nike Football’s brand book.

“Ball man” was created by the London-based retail design agency Ratcliffe Fowler Design for the build up of the World Cup – the first to be staged on African soil. The brief was to produce something impactful and reflective of Nike’s vision of inspiration and innovation, with the technical challenge of fitting something suitably “premium and eye-catching” within the 30m tall atrium space. Perhaps easier said than done. 

The solution was found in Carlos Teves – his body in fact, as the “5,500 Brasil skills balls strung together by over 10 km of wire, weighing in at 4.75 tonnes, suspended from the atrium ceiling… ” represent him – rather a feat of engineering, and an honour to CT himself. Let’s hope he liked what he saw. On a personal, subjective level – I like the interesting use of perspective the sculpture evokes, and the whole architectural magnificance of the whole thing, with the balls hanging there as if temporarily frozen.


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