Here Come The World Cup Ads

With Less Than Two Months Until Kickoff, The Battle For Eyeballs Has Begun

Huge global sporting extravaganzas such as the Olympics and the World Cup have become a battleground for advertisers looking to win the hearts, minds and eyeballs of the prodigious global audience. With less than two months to go until the World Cup kicks off, the advertising floodgates have opened and the battle has begun.

Where it gets really interesting is seeing how brands that are not official World Cup sponsors attempt to associate themselves with the hype and attention around the event. Nike & W+K pretty much wrote the book on this with their wildly successful ‘Write The Future’ campaign in 2010 (Harvard Business Review Case Study can be found here. I highly recommend having a read). In short, Nike trounced Adidas, capturing more than double the share of buzz associated with the World Cup (30.2% share of buzz vs. 14.4%, respectively). That success triggered a flurry of activity from brands, with sponsors looking to defend their investment and non-sponsors looking to create standout campaigns to capture some of the attention around the World Cup madness. With that in mind, here’s a few standout examples leading into the 2014 World Cup.

Official Sponsors:

Castrol — Football vs. Gymkhana

What do you get when you take two hugely popular phenomenon, football star Neymar Jr. and Gymkhana star Ken Block? Footkhana! DC Shoes series of Gymkhana vidoes with Ken Block have racked up over 250 million YouTube views over the past several years so Castrol is smart to tap into the existing appetite for these videos while also tapping into the huge interest in anything Neymar related. To get a sense of how big Neymar is in relation to Gymkhana, take have a look at Google Trends which plots interest Neymar vs. Gymkhana on YouTube.

Of course two huge stars doesn’t guarantee success, but Castrol (and their agency, M&C Saatchi) have smartly taken the strength of each star by combining them into a head-to-head Freestyle football match (notice that Neymar is safely off to the side for some of the most dangerous parts. I’m sure the lawyers were freaking out when this idea was originally proposed). Check it out below:

Adidas —Brazuca Around The World

As previously mentioned, Adidas got their asses handed to them by Nike in the last World Cup, so there’s an intense amount of pressure for them to really amplify their World Cup sponsorship. Adidas (and their agency, TBWA) are continuing to leverage the ‘Adidas Is All In’ platform that was successful for them throughout the Olympics. They kicked off their World Cup activity back in December when they introduced the official World Cup match ball, the brazuca (intro video here). Earlier this month they launched ‘brazuca around the world,’ which uses a special brazuca ball that captures ‘360º views through six different lenses, offering fans around the world the opportunity to enjoy and share the love of football from an entirely new perspective.”

It’s a lovely idea to use the brazuca ball as as the vehicle to tell the story of various World Cup contenders and the football culture that surrounds each of the national teams. Check out the trailer and brazuca stories below, with a new country/story being added each week.

Non Sponsors

TAM — Catimba

My colleague, Grazielle Portella, turned me onto this wonderful commercial from Y&R Sao Paolo: ‘TAM is the only Brazilian airline that does international flights, while Gol, their most direct competitor — and the one with WC rights –, does only domestic ones. So the video shows 3 official Brazilian players who play in European teams flying back to Brazil for the Games, while facing obstacles from the Europeans opponents who don’t want them to. The best part is their tagline: “The competitors won’t like this at all. But TAM is the one who will bring our best players to play at home!”.’

The description doesn’t do it justice, so have a watch below. Definitely my favorite World Cup ad thus far.

Nike — Risk Everything

While Adidas faces pressure from Nike, surely Nike (and their agency, W+K) feels pressure to equal or surpass the success of 2010's Write The Future. They recently launched their ‘Risk Everything’ platform. The launch video features Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar and ‘shows the pressure felt by some of the world’s greatest players as they prepare to play on the world’s biggest stage.’ Additionally a Risk Everything microsite encourages amateur players to upload clips of themselves for a chance to be featured in a future ad. Very nicely done but hard to imagine it’ll have the same resonance as ‘Write The Future.’
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