The Gilliam Nike ads


During Spring 2002, new advertisements from Nike were broadcast featuring many of the world’s best footballers. The short films – made to tie in with the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan – were directed by Terry Gilliam.

Two advertisements were filmed – “The Secret Tournament” and “The Rematch”.

This webpage contains stills and behind-the-scenes pictures from the adverts.

“The Secret Tournament” was filmed in December 2001. Gilliam worked with Nicola Pecorini as Director of Photography and set designer Stefano Maria Ortolani. The advert, shot at Rome’s Filmhouse Studios, is set in the belly of a cargo liner. Within the cargo liner is a massive cage with turf. Where eight teams of three players play a tournament under the watchful eye of Eric Cantona.

“The Rematch” was filmed on January 28 and 29. Fraser Taggart was Director of Photography for this second shooting session.

Both advertisements, in a variety of formats, are now available to download at

The Secret Tournament
Click on the following images to view larger stills from the first advert.

Behind-the-Scenes at The Secret Tournament
Click on the following images to view larger behind-the-scenes pictures.

Gilliam behind a camera
Terry Gilliam inside a cage
Gilliam exits cage
Nicola Pecorini lying on the turf
Nicola Pecorini (centre) laughing
Pecorini (again)

The Secret Tournament – Nike’s Press Release
Here’s the premise of Secret Tournament: Hidden from the world, 24 elite players hold a secret tournament, with eight teams, and only one rule: “First goal wins!”

Controlling the action is Eric Cantona, who oversees every three-on-three match noir that takes place in a huge container ship docked in an unknown harbor. With Monsieur Cantona at the helm, you can be assured there will be no whining, no judgment calls, and no mercy.

As an icon of danger and intrigue, the scorpion serves as the symbol for stinging play. Seen popping up around the world since mid-March, the sinister and segmented arachnid evokes the speed and venomous strikes that bring victory.

The Teams and Players

Triple Espresso: Totti, Nakata, Henry
The Untouchables:  Vieira, Scholes, Van Nistelrooy
Cerberus:  Wiltord, Thuram, Davids
Toros Locos:  Saviola, Luis Enrique, Ljungberg
Os Tornados: Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos
Funk Seoul Brothers: Denilson, Seol, Ronaldinho
Equipo del Fuego: Crespo, Lopez, Mendieta
Tutto Bene: Rosicky, Cannavaro, Ferdinand

“These players are the personification of everything that Nike football stands for,” says Stefan Olander, Nike Europe’s Brand Communication Director. “They are creative, exciting and innovative when it comes to finding the single touch needed to score a goal and win a game. They also represent the spontaneity, joy and skill of the game, and hopefully all those features come out in Secret Tournament.”

Directed by Terry Gilliam, the Secret Tournament commercial comes in three versions – a three minute, 60 seconds and three x 30-second versions. The action takes place to the scintillating backdrop of a re-mixed version of the Elvis Presley song “A Little Less Conversation.” It’s the first time one of the King’s songs has been remixed.

Football fans everywhere can participate in the Secret Tournament at “Step in now or walk out forever,” is the challenge each visitor faces. If they are brave enough to enter, they will find a devastating blend of design and interactivity: 3D gaming, downloadable posters and commercials, exclusive commentary from Cantona, the “Mind Cage”, and full product information, all in 12 languages – English, German, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), French, Spanish, Chinese, Chinese for Hong Kong, Korean, Japanese.

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Copywriter: Tim Wolfe
Art director: Frank Hahn
Director: Terry Gilliam
Production company: @Radical Media
Behind-the-Scenes at The Rematch
Click on the following images to view larger behind-the-scenes pictures.

More to explore

Films in depth

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
The Zero Theorem
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
The Brothers Grimm
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
12 Monkeys
The Fisher King
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Time Bandits