Creative Soccer Culture

What to do with the Nike Hypervenom?

When the player who’s supposed to be the “face” of the product doesn’t wear it then there’s always going to be question marks. Throw in the fact that the Hypervenom II had to change uppers midway through its shelf-life, and players are still trying to accurately figure out a way to separate it from the Mercurial… then we can’t help but ponder the future for Nike’s Hypervenom series.

It’s a boot that has been a member of the Nike stable ever since the Swoosh decided to toss the T90 aside like an unwanted World Cup winning legend at a Man United training ground. The T90 was a hard act to follow, it was much-loved, and the Hypervenom arrived with hype but is it all turning a bit venomous? It’s a release that hasn’t quite obtained a true identity. How can a boot that’s been on the market for over three years still feel like a product that we’re no closer to understanding now, than we were in 2013? Shaking the magic 8-ball of football future, we keep coming up with the same response: outlook is hazy.

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Neymar's Vapor XI disguised as a Hypervenom Phinish II.

One of the biggest headaches facing Nike and the Hypervenom’s present and future status as a major boot in the market is the face of the boot silo: Neymar. If Nike was looking for a star to pick up the mantle once CR7 starts to lose a bit of the sparkle, the Barcelona forward would be the perfect player to shift into that role. Young, flashy, and an easy player to market to a multitude of fan-bases, the Brazilian attacker feels like the next player to stand at the peak of the Nike mountain.

However, the problem isn’t how great Neymar will be for the future of Nike… it’s the simple fact that Neymar is supposed to be the main representative of the Hypervenom franchise, but doesn’t actually wear the Hypervenom at all. No matter what the situation actually is for Neymar, it’s been one of the worst kept secrets that the tricky player sports a disguised version of the Nike Mercurial. Even after receiving signature colourways and special edition versions of the Hypervenom, the Swoosh merely painted up the current Mercurial Vapor and hoped that we wouldn’t notice (note: we noticed).

If you can’t get the player that’s the lead of the marketing, the player that’s wearing all your special editions, a player that you’ve created a player-specific look that is a homage to his history within the game, and he still can’t seem to stomach the actual boot… something’s not quite right. Sure, you could switch the boot to another player. Yeah, finally letting Neymar wear the Vapor publicly could allow him to truly be in line for Ronaldo’s throne. But, the damage has definitely been done as too many are already questioning the validity of the Hypervenom silo.

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The upper of the Hypervenom II before it was changed due to stiff criticism.

Another difficult step for the Hypervenom is that it has suffered through its fair share of issues during its short life. The original version had a wealth of durability issues as Nike struggled to marry the thin upper with the build of this boot without seeing major separation from the soleplate after only a short period of use. Some people order multiple pairs of boots in order to hold on to something special after a brand moves on, but talk to any first-gen Venom player and they’ll tell you they needed multiple pairs to simply have a replacement ready once their current pair rips.

As if that wasn’t enough, the second version of the Hypervenom had to go through an upper change during its tenure in order to improve an upper that, despite not being terrible, did seem to stay a bit too stiff. Although other boots might have also gone through a fair few issues, none of them were as young as the Hypervenom… it’s stacking up a bit here.

Perhaps the largest struggle for the boot has been, and will continue to be, the simple fact that it really hasn’t differentiated itself enough from other boots. Not only other boots, but boots that are manufactured by the same company. Add in that the strongest tag that Nike has found for the Venom is that it’s an agility based boot, and the struggles merely continue to mount.

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Top: Neymar launches the Hypervenom in 2013. Bottom: The second-gen in the making.

We’re sure that Nike already has plans for the upcoming Hypervenom and, considering the upper shift recently, it probably isn’t too far into the future. However, the boot feels like it doesn’t have the strength of a boot that Nike would prefer to have on its books. Is there a safe path forward for the boot to stave off heading towards that boot bag in the sky, next to the CTR and T90 silos? While we aren’t sure that it will make any difference, we have some thoughts.

First: Either Neymar wears the boots, or we move on. Who else would wear it? That's up to Nike… but they’ve got a few players that could fill the void by committee instead of one major superstar.

Second: Do something, anything, to let this boot feel different from the Vapor. The Phinish, before the upper change, was only slight indentations and odd shapes on the upper away from the Vapor XI. “Agility” isn’t enough to sell us on a boot, and we’re anxious for a fourth silo that stands apart. Remember when you had a power silo on the books that stood apart from the other boots you had on show?  Yeah, so do we…

Lastly: This boot needs to be tested beyond the typical realm of testing. The Venom can’t handle any other major issues that you’ll have to change midstream, a durability issue isn’t going to work for the future of the boot, and you’re going to have to change the soleplate at some point… might as well be now. It's not a bad boot, not by a long shot – numerous pros are still wearing it and are comfortable in it. It just feels a bit... lost. Ya know? Especially in the marketing world.

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The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author, and do not reflect the position of SoccerBible as a whole.

What would you do with the Hypervenom?


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