By Clarissa Cruz
Updated August 24, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

SUBJECT ”Tag,” the mesmerizing ad from sneaker giant Nike that debuted in June. SYNOPSIS A java-toting guy is tapped on the shoulder by a stranger who then disappears. The tag-ee realizes he’s ”it” when hordes of downtowners flee from him. He spends the next 60 seconds chasing commuters through streets, parks, and subway platforms. BACK STORY The aim of the ad, created by Portland, Ore.-based agency Wieden + Kennedy, was to invoke a sense of old-fashioned, unstructured playtime. ”Because of all the spontaneity and potential drama, tag just works well on film,” says copywriter Mike Byrne. The agency rounded up 240 extras in Toronto to portray commuters and created the soundtrack (a steady, cello-driven bass line) with Santa Monica-based music house Elias. CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE ”We liked how inclusive [tag] was, how democratic, and how it [got across] that we’re all athletes,” Byrne says of the ad, part of a trilogy that includes a sun-shy jogger (”Shade Running”) and a ball-dribbling teen following a stranger (”Tailgating”). Plus: No need to hire overpaid sports pros.