Nike rugby ad just blew it


Just Do It is quickly became just blew it for Nike this week after its flashy and unbearably triumphant ad celebrating England's non-existent Grand Slam glory at the weekend was leaked onto YouTube.

On Monday morning, the 30-second video appeared on the video-sharing website and quickly went viral.

It features a number of English players, including Toby Flood, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden, striking heroic poses before concluding with the emotional - and entirely wrong - words "Onwards. Grand Slam Champions 2011".

England, of course, missed out on the highest Six Nations honour at the death following a 24-8 mauling by a suddenly invigorated Irish team on Saturday.

As if losing wasn't bad enough, the team must now also contend with howls of laughter from thousands of Irish, Scottish and Welsh rugby supporters who have watched and passed on the clip over the last 48 hours.

Despite the ad being repeatedly removed from many individual Youtube accounts over the last 36 hours as Nike tried to minimise the embarrassment caused by its leak, it has continued to be widely circulated.

Red-faced officials at the sports company’s European headquarters in London accepted yesterday that they had fumbled the ball when they attached the video to an internal email intended to make staff aware of marketing campaigned developed in case the English team it sponsors beat the Irish.

The company said what while it had to plan any potential communications in advance its "pre-game optimism was misplaced, and we won't be sending any internal emails like that in the future!"

A whole range of other promotional endeavours including a billboard campaign and t-shirts marking the English “achievement” had also to be scrapped after the wheels came off the chariot in the Aviva stadium.

There wasn't even the wryest of smiles at the English Rugby Football Union headquarters in London yesterday morning

The RFU expressed its complete dismay that the ad had surfaced and insisted that no disrespect to the Irish rugby team had been intended.

In a statement, the Union said advance filming had been necessary for commercial reasons but it denied that it had taken the final game against Ireland lightly.

"It is disappointing that details of Nike's internal planning has got into the public domain. In no way did the RFU or the England team underestimate the challenge that the Ireland team would pose," the statement said. "We were well beaten by a team who played better and we have the utmost respect for Declan Kidney and the Irish players."