Our 5 Favorite World Cup Ads

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Like most Buffalonians — and Americans — we’ve caught a pretty dramatic case of FIFA fever. The 2014 World Cup has banana-kicked itself into our collective consciousness, and fans (and non-fans) across our city, country and continent are united in their love for fútbol.

Almost as exciting as the action on pitches across Brazil is the battle for the World Cup advertising supremacy. We’ve seen some amazing work over the past few months — here are some of our favorite spots.

Beats By Dre: “The Game Before The Game”

This motivational ad displays how the pre-game rituals of athletes, entertainers and fans around the world include some serious time spent rocking out with Beats by Dre headphones. The nearly-six-minute spot opens with Brazilian soccer star Neymar, Jr. as he prepares for a Cup game, and then shifts the focus to other stars like as Lil Wayne, LeBron James and Serena Williams.

The ad has 19 million views. If you weren’t sold on soccer, Beats by Dre might change your mind — or at least convince you to drop $250 on new cans. Credit for this work goes to R/GA, whose deft touch at integrating Beats by Dre and sports stars into visually stunning ads has been lauded by industry publications like Ad Age.

Nike: “The Last Game”

This animated spot features some of the world’s best soccer players — Neymar (again!), Luis, Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and more — in a soccer dystopia where dynamic athletes have been replaced by a team of flawless clones (the German squad?) who don’t believe in taking risks.

Tired of their comically preposterous new jobs and desperate to save the beautiful game from boredom, the stars (led by Ronaldo) rally for one winner-take-all match — and, more importantly for Nike, a chance to win the great World Cup 2014 branding war.

Reviews of the spot have been largely positive. From Ad Week:

Some will say the cartoon lacks the muscle and flesh-and-blood weight of real soccer footage. (Indeed, sports ads fetishize real action shots to an almost absurd degree.) But Nike is acknowledging here that “real” sports footage in advertising is hyper-stylized anyway—only one step removed from animation. Why not take it that extra step, particularly if you continue to keep the craft at the highest level?

The spot has a whopping 56 million views. Another coup for Nike’s longtime agency of record, Wieden + Kennedy.

Adidas: “House Match”

This ad — which has garnered over 17 million views — stars senior legends David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura, who show off their still-sharp skills in the unconventional environment of ‘Beckingham Palace.’ Prepare for amusement as the four pros turn DB7’s crib into a personal pitch, and nearly wreck the joint in the process. Victoria would NOT be happy about this.

TBWA/Chiat/Day — the agency behind some notable athlete-focused work like Pepsi’s Jeff Gordon Test Drive, Gatorade’s Lightning Bolt campaign, and Nissan’s Heisman House — created this ad for adidas. Nice job.

McDonald’s: “Gol”

The trick shot / “buckets” phenomenon has not been ignored by soccer aficianados. Rather than focusing on World Cup stars, McDonald’s decided to go a more unconventional route, showcasing ‘ordinary’ people with extraordinary skills in locales around the world. Some of these tricks are as eye-popping as anything we’ll see in Brazil.

McDonald’s has received around five million views for “Gol,” and probably deserves many more. DDB Chicago gets credit for putting together this spot.

By the way — the woman in high heels with crazy soccer skills? That’s Argentinian supermodel Fiorella Castillo. And yes, she really is that good.

ESPN: “Time Zone”


In this minute-long spot, ESPN goes globe-hopping to show the passion and dedication of the international soccer fan. Displaying how universal this event really is, you get a taste of how each culture supports their team in the Cup. “Every four years,” the spot proclaims, “the world has one time zone.”

The ad has roughly 1 million views and was created by — you’ll remember this name from the Nike video — Wieden + Kennedy.

Bryan McAleer, ESPN’s associate director of sports marketing, recently discussed the concept behind “Time Zone:”

The spot started with a simple insight: every four years, the world basically functions on one time zone: World Cup. No matter what time of day, no matter what the circumstances, fans will find a way to get in front of a screen to watch the match. It’s the only sport that the phrase “the whole world is watching” isn’t disingenuous or cliché. We wanted to show fans from around the world, different cultures, different situations all engaging in the same act, preparing to watch a big World Cup match, in their own unique ways.

Enjoy the rest of the World Cup, everyone. And let’s go, USA!

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