Advertising has always played a big role in the financial aspect of football, read: The Money, and we constantly see brand names: either lining historic, sacred stadium walls or plastered on the front of our beloved teams’ jerseys. Generally, the branding and marketing arms of football are looked at through a pessimistic lens. However, there are some campaigns that do the beautiful game justice. These tug on our heart strings, bring smiles to our faces and get us pumped for the next go around. In this piece, I’m going to share some of the most memorable football related commercials/promotional spots.
Nike: Joga Bonito
This was one of Nike’s longest running campaigns, as evidenced by the age of these clips. “Joga bonito” is Portuguese for “play beautiful” and the goal was to spread the love of the game by showing the carefree, elegant side of football. The series is intentional in having no defined purpose, these clips weren’t game or tournament specific spots – just to increase exposure to the beauty of the sport.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan and Ronaldo remain two of the top footballers playing, so this throwback clip is all the more entertaining to watch.
Make the Ball Happy
Ronaldinho was featured in a lot of the Joga Bonito clips, but “Make the Ball Happy” is powerful because of the emphasis on playing for the love of the game and the joy it brings.
Never Grow Up
Another Ronaldinho spot, “Never Grow Up” touches people not only because of his infectious smile, but what Ronaldinho stands for – the growth and evolution of a player over time, and the idea that somewhere inside the superstar players is a little kid who fell in love with football.
Nike: Risk Everything
Ahead of the 2014 WC, Nike released the Risk Everything series. These were able to connect viewers to the sport and players, while not so subtly reminding them that without something to lose, there’s nothing to gain.
Winner Stays On
“Winner Stays On” is a common phrase on the pick-up fields and Nike tapped into the love of playing with this commercial. By starting and ending following a kid in a pick-up game and adding some comedy through the player’s real life attitudes, the company makes this appealing to fans and non-fans alike.
The Last Game
Using the idea of man vs. technology in “The Last Game” (and some amazing animation), Nike distracted from the WC nature of one country vs. another – and united everyone to preserve the game itself.
Nike: Write the Future
Ahead of the 2010 WC, Nike used “Write the Future” to remind people of the power the tournament has on people for months, and years, after the final whistle blows and, ultimately, why they should care about it in the moment.
Nike: Take It to the Next Level
The first person POV in “Take It to the Next Level” was another genius Nike idea, allowing fans to fully put themselves into the world of football and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a superstar.
Adidas: The Impossible Team
This Adidas ad brings together some of the biggest names in football, but remains relatable through the two main characters.
Gatorade: Heart of a Lio
Gatorade uses “Heart of a L10” to capitalize on the underdog storyline and uses the (almost) universally loved Messi for star power.
Adidas: Messi is all in
Within the scope of this course, the “Messi is all in” clip is the most relevant. The camera follows Messi exclusively, similar to the film we watched earlier Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait.
Nike: American Woman
“American Woman” is as grassroots as Nike gets within these commercials. The UWSNT had to rely on grassroots efforts to sell tickets back in the 90’s, so the use of young girls and non-professional women playing in the commercial can be looked at as a nod to all of the tiers of women’s football that support the success of the national team. Also, the idea of pushing teammates to do better is seen throughout the clip – this idea that hard work leads to change/success/growth is the backbone of the American Dream.
Fox: It’s Not Over
Fox’s “It’s Not Over” attempts to garner support for the USWNT, and the TV ratings, by capitalizing on the huge culture surrounding the men’s World Cup in 2014.
Gatorade: Forget Me
Finally, this commercial focuses on the entire sport of women’s football through the celebration of Abby Wambach’s stunning career. Gatorade provides an inspiring message to female players of all ages, urging them to continue propelling the sport and eclipse her legacy.