297. World Cup Advertising.
Jun 5, 2010 at 01:35PM
There's only one event that displays more advertising clout than the Super Bowl and that's the World Cup. And the cool thing about the world cup is that—well, it includes the world—so we get an international peek into the industry and culture surrounding the sport of futbol, football, soccer or whatever you call it. Graphicology will be looking out for the best, worst, and most interesting work this year and posting them below. I'll update this post often so be sure to come back. And if you have any tips, send them away. Oh, there are about 70 spots below, so give them a moment to load. Enjoy.

1. Adidas - Star Wars Cantina & The Quest.
Snoop Dog. Daft Punk. Noel Gallagher. David Beckham. Actor Jay Baruchel. Agency, Sid Lee, of Amsterdam pulled out all the punches for this spot in a remake of the famous Star Wars Episode IV cantina scene. It's hard not to watch all two minutes of it and is one of the few longer format ads that still feels too short. A really fun idea. The only small issue I have with it is the emphasis on originality with the Adidas tagline, given the somewhat unoriginal remake. But I'm being picky here. It's enjoyable and just what we'd want from a Super Bowl spot: celebrity, pop-culture references, humor and a tie-in into the event ala Mr. Bend-it.

The Quest concept (via 180 Amsterdam) sets up a star from each World Cup team as superhero and features the introductory ad below, but also something they are calling a live graphic novel. If you go to their Facebook page you can sign up and get alerts throughout the matches as it appears they will be releasing the creative for each player on a daily basis. The image below will give you a taste of what they are up to, followed by the spot.

In Johannesburg this afternoon, Der Kaiser - Franz Beckenbauer helped kick off adidas Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Live Quest.

2. Nike - Write The Future.
This piece has already got a ton of press. And it seems like everybody loves this spot. One thing I'll say is this: It's a ride of a spot. It takes you with it, which is a huge compliment to the Wieden and Kennedy folks. I was talking to a friend about this short film and what struck them (and I think this is a very astute comment) is that it's obvious in a day when ad and ad production budgets are being slashed, who has the money to spend. This was one expensive spot to pull off and that really sticks out just as much as the concept does. Maybe more so. (And let's be clear, the concept is solid but not ground-breaking. It is helped a lot by the tagline and positioning too.) All that being said, it's another fun one to sit back and watch. I do wonder how they'll make the shorter format ads work, as I think the sum is greater than the parts. A few pieces of the Nike Write The Future print follow the video below.

3. Pepsi - Oh Africa.
I guess that whole we're-not-really-advertising-anymore approach is already gone out the window. Pepsi pulls a few football stars together in ridiculously stupid-looking Pepsi shirts and challenge a few african kids to a game, where the pitch is formed by all the locals who of course try to make it more difficult on the star players. Honestly, there are a few nice moments but this spot feels like it was produced in a third world country. It's production value and art direction falls flat, which is a shame b/c the concept of the pitch being made up of people was rather well thought out. It tries to be epic, featuring the Oh Africa song by Akon and just comes up a bit short.

4. Mars Bar - For England.
Those rascals at Mars are rooting for England? I'm pretty sure Mars is an American company, right? It sure is tough for multi-nationals to appeal to a local market in the digital age when people all around the world can see the ad on YouTube. I'm sure the loyal US soccer contingent will boycott Mars brand candy bars throughout the World Cup as a result of this post. What? There is no loyal US soccer contingent? Oh, you're right. Nevermind. Anyway, this spot is pretty bad and features England footballer John Barnes rapping a stupid song which apparently is a resurrection of his rap that was once popular back in 1990. And you guessed it, everybody joins in singing. I get the sense that there will be a lot of instances where the whole world comes together in advertising to sing something in harmony. Too bad it only happens in commercials and because that's true this also feels like a European ad that is somehow below industry standards.

Mars Update - The Badge. Here's a new spot for Mars. It's all about wearing the badge. This spot lets the players of past British teams talk about the pride they felt when putting on the uniform of their nation. Kind of a nice way to remind us about their sponsorship, sure.

5. Visa - Run to the Game
Here's a little concept that I like. It's simple. Interesting to pull off. And like the Nike and Adidas spot is fun to watch. It features an overweight guy who gets excited by a goal and decides to run to South Africa where the World Cup is being played. He grabs his Visa card and uses it all along the journey and in doing so, he becomes extremely fit, athletic and in shape enough to run out onto the field and score a goal himself. It's a rather ingenious way to work in the client's benefit while being cinematic enough for such an event. The Pixis soundtrack doesn't hurt either. Agency Saatchi & Saatchi, London is responsible for this effort. Well-done guys and gals.

Visa Update:— Here's the GoFans portion of Visa's World Cup campaigns. Go ______ has been their global positioning for a couple years now and is the work of TBWA\ChiatDay out of Los Angeles. The campaign features lots of parts and pieces which includes a fan competition to see who can call the best goal-scoring play. You can enter via Visa's YouTube channel. The spots feature master storyteller / narrator Morgan Freeman talk about the importance of coming together during the games. Here's where the interesting comparison comes about. The first version below is our US version with Red from Shawshank, and another version apparently for Europe or elsewhere that is read by someone else - presumably because of rights to use Freeman's voice. I'll leave it up to you to decide how important the voice talent is to the spots.

6. Powerade - Inner Thoughts
Powerade is doing something rather interesting. Instead of releasing one or two spots for the games, they are releasing 16 inner thoughts that you have to find within the timeline of a never-ending game. It's not difficult to 'find' them and I wish the search played a bigger part of the concept. Each inner thought is a take on a player's mindset as well as the product benefits during athletic events. Each has a different storytelling style and are worth checking out. You can't embed the video here, so just click on the still below to take you to their YouTube channel.

Powerade Update - Rooney After watching him really attack the US team in the second half of today's game, Rooney can really play that's for sure. Here's a Powerade spot featuring Rooney going up against a tough competitor, himself.

7. Coca-Cola - History of Celebration
Perhaps the spot that connects with the actual game the most so far, Coke's History of Celebration does just that, takes the viewer through goal-scoring dances throughout the last few decades. It lacks an importance that some of the other spots have, but the spot features some pretty funny choreography that would make the touchdown performances in the NFL seem like elementary school theater. (Ol' Ocho Cinco would do well in FIFA.) I think the voice-over is redone depending on where the spot is airing and it's fun to compare the different reads. Below is the British version, I believe, followed by a better quality German VO.

8. Sony - England V USA & Kids
Apologies for the poor video supers on the first video, but here are two spots worth viewing. The first is pretty predictable with a heavy retail push (which is disappointing for such a big event); but it has enough of a twist to be interesting at the end, as Team USA gets a slightly unexpected fan. The second is a well-produced version of every kid's dream growing up; promoting the new line of Bravia TVs. The piano soundrack adds to the mood and it's supposed to just make you feel good watching it, and does a pretty good job of building up the games along with the products. And while we're dealing with Sony, I have to say that I think Make.Believe might be the best tagline going right now, complete with a unique sound. Fits who they are and what they do pretty well. But I digress.

Sony Update: Looks like Sony is promoting their 3D television during the World Cup too, in a spot called, Please Do Not Adjust Your Set. (Am I the only person out there that refuses to wear glasses to watch TV at home?) Everything here makes sense, and they squeeze in an explosion, a burning demon, and of course soccer balls coming at your face to prove their point. See below. I've also heard that they'll be installing 3D screens around the stadiums and running highlights in 3D, which might be the most compelling footage for such a television, so good on them. The other spot below comes out of Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney but still falls under the global Make.Believe brand. It'sa simple take on the idea that the whole country is behind the teams. I will say that it seems like the foreign spots just have better soundtracks or scores than the usual American spots though I don't know why this is.The third spot below was shot in Beirut and is running in the middle east. It's perhaps the most generic of World Cup ideas you'll see... lots of people dribbling and bouncing the ball around to each other, but these spots usually have to run in about 20 different countries so their hands are tied a bit.

9. Castrol Magnatec - Always Ready.
The whole world coming together? Check. Fans in team colors? Check. Talking Oil Molecules? Uh, Check. A pretty boring spot with a little bit of unnecessary personification, you soon realize the oil is the narrator. I also noticed that I wouldn't want to be a visible oil company at the moment, as this whole BP mess in the gulf drags all the other oil companies down with it. Probably better if they just pulled their advertising for awhile all together. I still haven't been able to even look at all those oil maps, photos and infographics because I know how bad it is and it makes me sick. Maybe ESPN can re-edit their United spot below to include the oil spill? (Read more about that further down.)

10. Hyundai - Tease.
Now this is more like the Super Bowl with an advertiser teasing the actual spots a month or so in advance. Hyundai apparently is getting ready to release a spot that features a gigantic air-filled soccer ball to the world during the games. I'd write more about it, but I think that about covers it. Giant air-filled soccer ball. There you go.

Hyundai Update - Loyalty - Here's another spot this time from the US. Looks like they are going to take little things about being a fan, and tie it back somehow to the car, no matter how thin the logic. The spot is neither surprising or that interesting however.

11. Budweiser - Crowd.
Budweiser is one of the official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup, and it looks like they are taking an idea they used before and then applying it to the game. The first sample below is almost a direct application of an ad that I think ran before the Super Bowl once before, and the second sample below is one of their new spots that utilize the same technique. In the spots fans hold cards above their heads that form giant pictures which are used to distract the players. I think this could be taken in a few different directions and hope they have a few more executions up their sleeve. Overall, this is pretty much what you'd expect from Bud: well-produced, middle-of-the-road creative with an obvious bent towards college-aged men.

Budweiser Update - Here's another spot from DDB Chicago that will air during the World Cup. Called swap, it's pretty traditional Bud fare.

Budweiser Update 2 - Now, I like this. Bud is also running a campaign called The Bud House. Much like all the reality TV crap you see, the house is full of 32 fans - one for each team. Over the next 29 days fans will be kicked off when their teams get kicked out of the tournament and viewers can follow along online here if you are of age. The last fan standing gets to present the MVP trophy (Man of the Match) to the player after the final match. DDB (Chicago & Amsterdam) are the agencies behind this. Thanks to AdFreak for the first report. You can also watch the US fan representative on their site.

12. McDonalds - Various.
Sometimes an advertiser doesn't have one spot that runs during the event (like during the Super Bowl) they'll have many different spots run throughout the world, giving regional agencies a chance to translate their brand in a more localized manner. So, it gets pretty tricky attempting to find these spots. This is especially true with McDonalds. Below are some of the spots that have the FIFA tie-in from around the world, with more coming. Nothing here should shock you because this is one company that appreciates brand consistency over communication excellence, or creative surprise. It's what you'd expect to see with an I"m loving it tagline.

The first execution is a South African ad touting McDonald's player escort program, where youth get a chance to walk out on the pitch with players from all over the world. The second set of executions come out of Dubai and my former employer FP7. The concept is a bit weird for we North Americas, as they are saying people become more like the country they are rooting for in the World Cup, even if they are Arabic in reality. (Americans pretty much only root for the US team.) There is some truth to this, as Arabic nations are huge soccer fans and tend to follow other national teams and more specifically players that they see in the Premier, Spain's La Liga or the Italian Serie A leagues. Below is an (keep up here) a spot featuring an Arabic German fan that was also produced for the expats in the UAE to understand. The second features an Arabic Brazilian fan that was produced for the KSA audience (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). The rules for what can be aired in the KSA is so vastly more strict it is not uncommon for even an arabic company to shoot spots specific to that country. The fourth video is out of Germany and features a reunion of former footballers and a conversation I'm hesitant to translate with only my few semesters of college German. I'm sure over the next few days and weeks there will be more from Mickey-D's.

McDonalds Update - LeoBurnett London is taking a pretty popular concept they've produced in the past (called Just Passing By) and have re-imagined it for the World Cup. It's some of the best stuff McDonald's is producing these days. It's just hard not to like it, it's so darn sweet and nice, which is perfect for their brand. The narrator does a great read too, bringing the words to life that are matched with fairly standard families-in-store fare.

13. MTN - 2 World Wars and One World Cup.
From an American perspective this one is pretty funny. MTN is a South African telecommunications operator and sponsor of the games. The spot shows a English soccer fan and his son staying at a hotel and getting ready to go to a match. They're singing a song that contains the chorus, "Two World Wars and one World Cup..." It's a nice little spot welcoming visitors to the continent, I'm just wondering how many other countries around the world give Britain credit for winning two world wars?

MTN - Update - Teleco MTN has been releasing a few more spots over the last couple of weeks. The first one below is a fairly safe football-related spot, with a little The Good. The Bad. & The Ugly thrown in for good measure. The second features early marital conflict surrounding the game. The third brings a little football to the dinner table. If I had to guess, I believe these spots were for the Egyptian segment of the Middle East but I'm not totally sure. Produced by Leo Burnett they help give you a sense of the context of advertising over there. It has to be pretty safe and the creative usually have a small world in which to work.

13. Telkom - Come Together.
Another local South African company, Telkom, is a major sponsor of the games and is leaning heavily on the often-used theme of the world coming together. Which is fine and all, I just wish it had something more to give us than that. Imagine fans from all over the world getting ready to watch the games and you'll have imagined this spot to a T. If aliens were to watch spots like this, they'd think we all actually get along, which would be nice. The getting along, not the aliens part.

14. Nandos - Visitors.
Nando's, a South African chicken restaurant and not really a sponsor of anything World Cup related, has been running a campaign aimed at rallying South Africans together in an effort to offer foreigners the best that the country has to offer. The campaign introduces a guy named Brs Chris, who works as part spokesman part butt of jokes. You can 'friend' him on facebook here to learn more. Now all of this sounds pretty run-of-the-mill advertising these days, and for the most part it is. It makes sense that SA company would want to connect their brand to the event and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of fans / customers. The first spot below is a good example of this campaign, urging all South Africans to carry things on their heads as that's what a lot of foreigners think they are going to see. The tagline, Only i'best for ama'visitors, follows and seems to be a play off the local accent. The second spot is something that we could never get away with here in the US, as it urges all South African women to go around topless just like in National Geographic magazines. Yep. They went all out giving us the obligatory metaphors for breasts throughout. I'm not sure this will offend women or black South Africans more. I'm going to bet that the agency is primarily male and white, though I don't know who the responsible agency is.

15. Carlsberg - England Team Talk.
Liverpool sponsor Carlsberg is asking for the English to record their best team talk (read: pep talk) and upload it to the brewer's YouTube Channel. They are also airing their own 90-second England epic that follows the team from the locker room onto the field and features a lot of people that probably are pretty famous across the pond, but most of whom I don't recognize unfortunately. Anyway, the spot takes on a pretty significant heft and it's not too hard to see devoted British football fans going crazy over it.

16. Puma - Journey of Football.
Athletic manufacturer Puma outfits 11 African clubs with their kits and have released an ad called, The Journey of Football featuring Gnarls Barkley's song, Going On. It's more of a fashion approach to advertising as there's really no concept going on here (forgive the pun), but the spot is spirited enough and the soundtrack good enough that it feels more like a short music video and with that as one's perspective, it's a win. The second piece is a short video that Puma released when unveiling the new kits in the fall of last year. What I really don't like is the tagline love=football. It's been used a zillion times before for everything from cars to toasters and it's always seemingly insincere. Yes, I know football is loved, but it doesn't equal love. Love is something we need for solving humanity's tendencies to focus on our differences. Got that Subaru - you can't use Love either. Stuff doesn't equal love and therefore Puma and football can't either. *Stepping off soapbox now... I've become such a softie these days.

17. Optus - Safari.
You don't have to be a World Cup sponsor per se to produce World Cup advertising. You can also sponsor your country's World Cup team. Australian mobile provider Optus takes what could have been a trite concept—a safari—and makes it work with commitment and production value. In the spot, the Socceroos take on all the wild animals you might expect to see on a safari as a metaphor for teams that the Australians will be playing; all done to promote their sponsorship of the national team. Agency, M&C Saatchi even weave in the product via a little boy who secretly watches the ensuing match and records it on his mobile phone. This could have ended badly, but the agency pulled it off and the spot is rather enjoyable.

18. Gudang Garam?
I'm hoping someone out there in internetland can help me with this one. I hate to even guess the nationality of this advertiser (Indian, Indonesian, I don't know) and what industry is also a mystery. The spot has a very high production value and features an ending that appears to be promoting sportsmanship for the games. Why or how this fits in with their business is beyond me. I know we have quite a few international readers, so drop a line if you can help. Thanks.

19. Dodge - Freedom
Technically, this isn't a World Cup spot, but it's difficult to imagine that the England v USA game on Saturday and the launch of this campaign are just happy coincidences. Clearly Dodge wants to go the all-American route and the following two examples for Dodge are about as brashly patriotic as you could get. It's as if Wieden+Kennedy got the brief and said, "You want patriotic? Well, WE'LL GIVE you PATRIOTIC." The ads are silly, exaggerated, ridiculous but still pretty fun and I think they speak to the kind of guys who buy challengers and chargers. With apologies to my friends across the pond.

Sample of the print:

20. AT&T - Warriors
Here's an example of a multinational corporation that sponsors a team rather than being an official sponsor of the games. AT&T is a corporate sponsor of the Mexico team that plays on day 1 and produced the following spot to leverage that promotion.

21. CBS Sports - Steve Nash
Though not an official World Cup network here in the states (or at least I don't think so), CBS sports is trying to get a little attention for their coverage of the games and have hired Steve Nash as a correspondent. If you don't know, Nash is a pretty solid soccer player, self-promoter, and of course all-star point guard for the Suns and should help attract viewers to his commentary. He also has produced a number of commercial spots himself and has released a few videos to highlight his new role at the network.

22. The Guardian (UK) - Animation
World-cup related sure, The Guardian is running this little spot to promote their offline and online coverage of the games. It's cute, definitely has a British tone, and is worth a watch to see what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

23. Pizza Hut - Gameplan
This goes to show you that Pizza Hut ads are Pizza Hut ads no matter where you live. Score one for brand consistency, but also for brand suckiness. Below are two spots produced to promote their new Italian pizza and to run in the Middle East. One version is English, the other Arabic. I don't blame the agency, just the client - they're the same over here too.

24. Birell - Bring Him Back
Birell is actually an Australian brand of non-alcoholic beer, but this campaign has been developed for the Egyptian market and roughly translated states: men act like women when they watch football, and Birell can bring them back. The campaign features 8 spots first debuted at this year's African Cup and are being aired during the World Cup as well.

25. The Economist - Interpret the World
Sometimes it's hard to discern whether a spot is spec or actually a real project from a paying client, especially in global markets. Sad but true. However, this Indian spot seems to be the real deal and part of the magazine's global Interpret the World campaign. It was released to coincide with the world cup and features - no surprise - boys playing soccer. But - surprise - it's not the feel good, come-together spot you'd expect. A pretty powerful concept. The soundtrack was created specifically for the spot, and has some rough lyrics as foreign markets tend not to edit English profanities. One of the more interesting pieces to be added to this column and is worth discussion.

26. IRN-BRU - Brazilian Bobby
Scottish carbonated soft-drink, IRN-BRU, kicks off a campaign to help Scotland win the World Cup. In 2034. And with a little help from Brazil. The plan involves the two countries joining forces - literally to make babies - to create a dominate Samba-McFootball team, the Bruzilians. You can follow along here.

27. Prestige Beer - Undercover
Well, this latest addition goes to show you that beer advertising tends to be beer advertising no matter where on this blue planet you live. There are exceptions but when in doubt brewery advertisers go back to what they know and that is, men like hot women in their spots. Prestige, a Hatian company out of Port-Au-Prince, follows this tried and true method with a somewhat convoluted script. It's terrible advertising but that doesn't mean this is the last of it by any means.

28. Greenpeace AU - Football Matches
The Australian office of Greenpeace manages to be thought-provoking and World-Cup relevant while dramatizing a fact about deforestation. (I'm not sure if the fact is a global or Aussie fact, not that it's actually a fact at all. But I'll assume it's true.) It's a pretty simple and clever bit of art-direction and storytelling that leaves you with a powerful end frame. I do wish the type and logo were handled with a bit more care, but that's often the case. The spot does make me want to plant a few trees and use less napkins, sheesh.

29. Umbro - Tailored by England
Umbro, a brand that was cool in the US for about three years in the early '90's, has launched a series of spots highlighting their homegrown connection to the England World Cup team. The spot itself is pretty simple, the whole nation singing their national anthem and wearing the Umbro kits of the team. I have to say, that the all-red uniforms they wore today against Slovenia looked great. And I've always been a big fan of their logo, it's unique and one of the few where you don't need any type. The symbol is enough.

* Various Network Spots
Most cable network advertising is already rather mediocre and that probably will remain the same for World Cup promotions. The few examples below kind of prove the point. ESPN's 10 effort is alright I suppose, and Univision's Shakira-voiced Do It sits right there in average land as well. The one so far worth noting is another effort from ESPN, launching their coverage of the games called, United. It has everything you'd want from an epic ad and attempts to display how sport can bring us together. The only problem with this is the creative execution only reminds the viewer of all the big problems we face in the world today and actually makes the games seem rather unimportant. We can't afford to sit around and watch matches all summer, we've got a lot of crap to solve! The opposite of the intentions I'm sure. It also kind of bummed me out.

Article originally appeared on Graphicology (http://www.graphicology.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.