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Rafael Grampá’s art has already featured in one high-profile advertising campaign this year, for Absolut vodka. Now his work is featuring in an promo for Nike that strikes straight to the core of the Brazilian national self-image: soccer. For any sports lovers looking forward to the 2014 World Cup, it’s an amusing piece of film, maybe even the equal of the famous 1998 airport kickabout short.
Brazil is hosting the tournament after a year of civil unrest, which featured protesters calling for the international community to boycott the World Cup amid spiraling costs and accusations of corruption. But soccer is the true national religion of Brazil, and I expect the World Cup to result in a wave of euphoria and national reconciliation, just as the 2012 Olympics caused in the United Kingdom after the riots of 2011. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this joyous advert prompts the start of this process.
As the ad cuts from player to player, it also cuts to a fantasy sequence reflecting each player’s internalized view of a match against a thinly disguised version of Brazil’s old rivals Argentina. Grampá’s section represents the inner workings of David Luiz. The curly-haired defender may be currently out of favor at José Mourinho’s Chelsea, but Grampá imagines him as a superheroic powerhouse saving the ball off the goal line at the last minute. I also chuckled out loud at the section devoted to Brazil’s legendary manager, Felipão ‘Big Phil’ Scolari, viewing his team of global superstars as a pack of unruly children.
(The above pair of images are via Grampá’s Instagram feed)