Vatican Releases Nike Commercial

Vatican Releases Nike Commercial

Posted by The Bear on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Breaking the pattern for releases of Pope Videos, an innovation of Pope Francis, August featured a big surprise.

Instead the Vatican released a Nike commercial featuring the sports gear company’s new spokesman, Pope Francis. The Pope’s agents reportedly negotiated a contract comparable with Michael Jordan’s $100 million deal.

The commercial features the usual Pope Video techniques of slo-mo montages, but production values are higher, as might be expected. Athletes of diverse ethnicities are shown competing with their balls, each representing a sport ranging from soccer (more logically called football by people outside of the United States) to ping pong. Their balls and their outfits are all discretely marked with Nike’s famous “swoosh.” Their balls finally break down a symbolic wall.

There is the familiar shot of the Pope reading a script about sports, but it ends with the pontiff looking into the camera and saying in English, “Just do it.”

According to new Vatican spokesman, former Fox TV correspondent Greg Burke, the deal also includes an unprecedented slogan-sharing provision. “His Holiness felt strongly that ‘Just Do It’ was perfect for his rebranding of the Catholic Church. He insisted on the slogan-sharing, or no deal.”

The famous Nike “swoosh” trademark was also part of the deal, and will be replacing the millennia-old cross as the new symbol of Christianity. “Pope Francis felt the cross was too negative,” Burke explained. “The swoosh is new. It’s positive. It’s about moving forward, doing it. Just do it. The Church has your back.”

However, the commercial was not without its critics. Former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters accused Nike-Vatican of “ripping off the [expletive deleted] Wall.” The iconic 1979 rock opera features wall imagery, and also ends with the destruction of a symbolic wall. However, music industry sources report that the Vatican and Waters, who owns the rights to The Wall, are negotiating licensing where all of Waters’ work – including The Wall – will be licensed to the Vatican for liturgical and other purposes. This goes along with longstanding rumors that Waters has been writing a new concept album called “The Mass.”

Anti-death penalty activists were outraged by the new slogan. Convicted Utah murderer Gary Gilmore chose death by firing squad in 1977, creating a huge amount of publicity. His last words, “Just do it,” are credited as the inspiration for the Nike slogan.

Pope Francis’ next promotional deal is reportedly with Italian airline Alitalia, with the slogan, “You don’t have to have a microphone to be treated like a pope.”

Be sure to see the Hound’s great piece [in comment below], too.

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One comment on “Vatican Releases Nike Commercial

  1. Posted by Oakes Spalding on TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2016

    Pope Video 8: Finally a Black Man Who Isn’t Holding a Spear

    Nice kick, man. I’m glad you’re on our team.

    The new Pope Video is out and it begins with a black man kicking a soccer ball at the camera.

    I have written previously about the curious general absence of black people in the first seven videos, made all the more jarring by the rainbow of other races and by the few exceptions – two kids on a rusty bed in what looks like a shack and a child’s drawing of a “typical” African family with Dad wearing a grass skirt and carrying a spear.

    It’s an Argentinian thing, I think.

    In any case, it might be claimed that the new video is basically unobjectionable. Who wouldn’t be in favor of sport as something that, among, other things brings, people together for peaceful competition. That was after all one of the primary goals of the Ancient and Modern Olympics. And it is of course a laudable one.

    There’s a black male soccer player, a white female tennis player, an asian male ping pong player (stereotype alert), a scary white male rugby player (obviously meant to placate Vikings) and a female Indian volleyball player. The mercifully short narration by the Pope emphasizes the value of sport in fomenting a culture of encounter and helping the cause of world peace:

    Sports make it possible to build a culture of encounter among everyone for a world of peace. I dream of sports as the practice of human dignity, turned into a vehicle of fraternity. Do we exercise together this prayer intention? That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between people and may contribute to peace in the world.

    For Pope skeptics such as myself there are of course the usual annoyances – the failure to mention any Christian or Catholic things – Christ, God the Church, etc. – the use of the Pope’s favorite buzzwords – culture of encounter – which for skeptics like me may contain quasi-sinister connotations and so on.

    There’s also the unbelievably narcissistic implied claim that after, say, 120 years of modern international Olympic competition, finally someone (Pope Francis) has come along who really understands that sports may help people from different countries come together in mutual brotherhood, and that finally someone (Pope Francis) has enunciated a plan to further effectuate that.

    If you think I’m being unfair about this, consider his words. If sports as a “vehicle of fraternity” had been already happening, why would the Pope say he only has a “dream” of it?

    The weirdest thing about the video is the reoccurring image of a wall being breached – not being broken down exactly, but literally being penetrated in rapid succession by a soccer ball, tennis ball, rugby ball (the ping pong ball was too small, I guess) and volleyball.

    When I saw the soccer ball hit the wall for the first time to a kind of downer note in the music – brong! – I actually thought the video was turning into “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again” message – the poor guy meant to kick the ball into the net but hit some wall on the sidelines instead, and he even chipped off a bit of the plaster on it. How embarrassing.

    Of course it’s a metaphor for breaking down walls – the same ones presumably that Donald Trump, international finance capital, weapons manufacturers, Cardinal Burke and all the other neo-pelagians are busy erecting, patching up, extending, reinforcing, etc.

    But the balls hit the wall with a force that Serena Williams could only dream about. They look like they’ve been shot out of howitzers – as all the while the Pope mentions and re-mentions the word “peace.” I suppose the effect could have been intentional. Tennis balls as rocket grenades.


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