Nike has dropped a saucy new advertisement that celebrates Nadal and which seems to throw some major shade at Federer and Djokovic.
This came as the gridlock between modern tennis’ three greats – Federer, Nadal and Djokovic – who were all tied on 20 grand slam wins each coming into 2022, was broken, with Nadal winning his 21st grand slam on Sunday as he took out the Australian Open, beating #2 in the world Daniil Medvedev in an incredible comeback.
After the match, Nike, which sponsors Nadal (and which used to sponsor Federer until he signed with Uniqlo in 2018), posted the following to Twitter.
“Advantage, Nadal. Today, @rafaelnadal made history by becoming the first male tennis player ever to reach 21 Majors. Rafa has been on a relentless journey to clinch this historic 21st Slam. He now stands alone at the top as the GOAT in the men’s game.”
This was accompanied by a video showcasing an audio montage of all Nadal’s success over the years (as well as his recent injury struggles, and quotes like “Is this the last we’ve seen of Rafa?”), climaxing in the moment the numbers tick up to 20, before the word ‘Deuce’ flashes up onto the screen.
There is then a pause, before the counter ticks over to 21. And then the playful words: “Advantage, Nadal.”
The campaign also appeared on billboards around the globe in such cities as New York, London and Los Angeles.
Someone at Nike, however, was clearly feeling bold and took the opportunity to make the above Nadal video. As the cheeky clip points out though, Nadal won’t necessarily stay on top of the mountain forever. The clip doesn’t end in “Match, Nadal,” but “Advantage, Nadal.”
For those wondering about the back-story with Federer, he gave up a reported $10 million a year deal with Nike in 2018 and penned a huge 10 year deal with Uniqlo for $300 million. This didn’t apply to his footwear though (just clothes). So Federer was then also able to pen a deal with Swiss brand On Running (which included an ownership stake in the company of about 3%).
On Running were valued at $10 billion last year, meaning Federer’s share was worth about $300 million.
As DMARGE reported last year, Federer’s deal with Uniqlo was smart, but it’s his move with On Running that was really savvy. Since its founding in 2010, On Running has come to capture 40% of the Swiss performance sneaker market, 10% of the German market and even 6.6% of the US market.
The upshot? It’s enjoying a profitable symbiosis with Federer, the champ’s star power (despite his injury woes of late) further elevating the business (and lining his own pockets in the process).
Given such a smart play from Federer back in 2018, perhaps it’s no wonder Nike (appear) to have enjoyed having a gentle dig after Nadal’s win.
Djokovic, for his part, is sponsored by French clothing giant Lacoste, on a contract reported to be valued at $US9 million (AU $12.5 million).
The real question now is: who’s going to catch Nadal for number 21? Federer would appear a very long shot at this point but we’re reluctant to ever rule him out. And you can bet your bottom dollar Djokovic is raring to have a crack. There are even reports he has now decided to get vaccinated after Nadal’s Australian Open win.
Our heart’s on Federer but our money’s on Djokovic.