Sky's new ad: one Nike prepared earlier

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The Independent Culture
Advertising incest has been common since the Eighties. References to other TV ads; recycling devices and characters; advertisers like Colgate reworking their own "classic" ads; the Carling spoof of the Levi's launderette ad; British Rail's homage to a whole generation of car commercials - all this is now basic stuff. But historically, advertisers haven't sampled each other's footage.

But the new Sky Sports ad uses the real stuff from Nike's Euro 96 campaign. Nike's an interesting advertiser with a highly recognisable style. Their Euro 96 poster campaign attracted enormous extra attention for getting most things wrong in a singular way.

The Sky commercial takes the joke on stage. It starts with the opening sequences of the Nike ad where a team of international football greats play the Devil and his crew. Mr Maldini passes to a flamboyant Brazilian and thence to the user-friendly Cantona, a Nike regular since his Sin, who does some dramatic business with his shirt collar before shooting straight at the demonic goalkeeper. The ball becomes a flaming planet intended to blow up the creature in 1970s horror-film fashion. But in this version the action stops, a distinctive Scottish voice interrupts and a scratch pen encircles the still players for a round of tactical instruction.

The voice belongs to Sky pundit Andy Gray. We see him in the studio, being manly yet slightly contemporary with his colleague Richard, demonstrating his powers of exegesis. This shockingly modern juxtaposition ushers in the Sky slogan - "no turning back" - and a voice-over offering the Carling premiership and the Nationwide Football League next season, while the sponsors' logos are displayed and then circled in white pen.

Who suggested what to whom to get this mutual admiration going - do Nike and Sky share the same agency? And where will it end - will Tony Kaye's Volvo dramas start to feature, stopped and rewound, in the next Sainsbury's garden-centre epic?