As FIFA World Cup fever mounts, soccer-related campaigns are becoming more inventive. Kylian Mbappé, widely seen as one of the world’s greatest current soccer players, has taken over Nike Football’s Instagram page—or rather, a miniaturized version of him has.
Since last week, an animated doppelgänger of the Paris Saint-Germain forward known as “Lil Mbappé” can be seen across the soccer-centric social media account with the sole purpose, in the character’s own words, of helping users to “go fast” and “have fun.”
Created by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, the campaign is complete with a video backstory that shows Mbappé being scanned and shrunk in “Mbappé Mode Labs, [a] super top-secret science place somewhere in Switzerland,” with a energetic mini-me version of the player inviting viewers to interact via the account’s DMs.
Once they click “Message” on Nike Football’s Instagram page, which boasts 45 million followers, users will be prompted to chat with either the company’s customer service department or “Lil Mbappé.” If they select the latter, they’ll start interacting with the animated character—a sophisticated user input-based chatbot—who will start sending them a number of different quizzes and mini-games over a week-long period.
“After the challenge, we created moments of banter,” Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam wrote on its website, “maximizing the chatbot experience while making it feel as human as possible, even including ‘proof of life’ imagery of our animated character.”
Since the time of its launch, the initial Instagram post announcing the “Lil Mbappé” takeover has been liked more than 100,000 times and has received thousands of comments. (Commenting “mbappe” on Nike’s posts about the campaign will also automatically launch the chatbot.)
In support of the takeover, Nike has also placed out-of-home posters in Paris and London with two Mbappés, both big and “lil,” appearing side-by-side.
The animated avatar and series of challengers piggybacks off of “Engage Mbappé Mode,” a campaign the Netherlands-based agency launched last year “where we imagined every kid’s inner Kylian Mbappé helping them go fast and have fun,” Wieden+Kennedy said.
That 2021 campaign took the form of a 60-second film showing a young soccer fan with an imaginary Mbappé inside his head, manually controlling him and increasing his speed. It also included a microsite where kids could submit videos of themselves “engaging Mbappé Mode” while doing their favorite physical activity.