Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing

32 Nations. One Language.

The World Game. Football. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is in full steam, and as we head into the final set of group matches, many of us have had a chance to see the football related commercials tens, even hundreds of times.

Now just like with Cause Marketing, sponsoring a sports event, or any other event for that matter, also comes with the question of how well do the brands align. Over the last few weeks we have seen the staples of World Cup commercials:

  1. Budweiser
  2. Nike
  3. Adidas
  4. Pepsi
  5. Coca Cola
  6. ESPN
  7. Hyundai

So let’s take a second to look at these:

Budweiser – D-

To be perfectly honest – slightly original. But boring. Would love to see Budweiser’s official mediaplan (cause if they are only buying adspace in the US then this could fly), but judging by the fact that they are the official sponsor of the World Cup, their ads are probably showing worldwide. And people worldwide are groaning.

Talk about originality. The same commercial redone 3 times. World Cup 2006, World Cup 2010 and Superbowls in the past. Really Budweiser? You’d think that with a total audience of 26 billion people, you’d try a little harder. See below.

Nike – A+

Everything that every other commercial does not have. It is fun. It connects with the fan. It shows the stigma and the standard to which each player is held. It shows the emotion. Debuting during the Champions League final this year, Nike hit this one out of the park again. Fantastic buzz-worthy presence for a company that has been muscled out of the World Cup by the other guys, Adidas. 16 Million Views online within the last month on the NikeSoccer channel alone can’t be wrong. Great work W+K Amsterdam.

On another note, isn’t it strange that none of the players in the commercial have performed well? Perhaps the Gillette curse is now on Nike? Ronaldinho failed to make the squad, Rooney has been non-existent, Cristiano Ronaldo has had a 1.5 year goal drought, Ribery has been silent, Drogba has been ok (given that they are in the Group of Death).

Adidas – B

Someone at the Adidas camp really must have wanted to hang out with George Lucas for the weekend or something. Slightly strange – though this focus on Classics rather than the Soccer division.

Which brings us to “The Quest”

Excellent proof that being a zero does not mean you can’t be a hero. Reminiscent of the Eric Cantona days at Nike as “The Boss” Zinedine Zidane makes a cameo as the Jedi Knight looking over the players. Fast, furious, plenty of effects and action, the spot focuses more about the players and their quest, rather than the emotions and connections the ones watching may feel. Still a good spot, but just lacks the connection of the Nike ad.

Pepsi – B+

Out of all of the commercials out there, the Pepsi ones really, truly embrace the fact that this is the first sporting event of this caliber to be held in Africa (the World Cup at least). It is truly remarkable that despite much criticism, disbelief and downright discouragement that South Africa has managed to pull off such a great sporting event.

Now back to the spots. Players such as Arshavin, Drogba, Henry, Lampard and Messi show up in Africa, put on some locally designed shirts (Check out the logo placement) and play football with the locals for a Pepsi. Truly endearing, fun and representative of the warmth with which the African people have welcomed the event, these spots are loaded with emotion and tongue-in-cheek humor that Pepsi is known for. The aspirational music and the general atmosphere may actually be a better commercial to visit Africa. Kudos to the logos being displayed throughout the entire spots.

For more check out the Pepsi Football Channel.

Coca-Cola – B+

You know, I’ve been a Coca-Cola loyalist for years, but their spots may be not as good as Pepsi’s. That being said, I’ve had the chance to meet Roger Milla before, which gives it the extra “+”. The main spot covers the history of celebration. The song encourages unification, and waving flags – a celebration of the fact that this is an event that brings everyone together for 30 days. 32 Nations. One Language. With the focus on Roger Milla, who in 1990 put viewers of the World Cup in Italy on their toes, the spot speaks in Coca-Cola’s voice and gets the message across – Coca-Cola unifies us. The team of players skipping like little girls just doesn’t get old. Great focus on Africa, while keeping to the brand’s voice and message.


The main ESPN commercial hits home really hard about what the World Cup is truly about – Unity. “The one month where everyone in the world agrees on one thing”. Wow. Just watch it for yourself.

The rest of ESPN – B

The rest of the spots focus on promoting the event and feature some fantastic photography from past events, as well as a few more emotional ads focusing on the history of South Africa.

Also, a cute Sportscenter commercial:

Hyundai – C

To be honest some of these spots were kind of strange. The first tries to connect loyalty to a fan who has died and is decked out in his gear at the funeral. Why would there be any kinds of death in a commercial for cars?

The second spot covers loyalty by a family naming their children after the entire 1966 England national team which won the World Cup. Not sure if this is a global commercial, but I’m quite positive that the only people who truly remember/care about the 1966 England victory in the World Cup is the British. Now with 40 million British people watching the World Cup (perhaps less if England is eliminated) out of an estimated billion or so, seems like this spot is slightly misplaced. Especially since it is running in America, a country where many individuals wouldn’t be able to name the full starting lineup of their own World Cup 2010 team, let alone care about what happened in 1966.

To be honest was expecting better from a company that is trying to redefine itself on a global scale.

Dodge – A

A special commercial created specifically for the England vs. US game. This commercial cannot be anymore brilliant than this. The British are scared away by Americans riding up in Dodge Challengers. Classic. Remembered. Catering to the tastes of the American people – you should have heard the roars of the crowds at the bars when this was going on.

And just for fun, a few more spots:

From 2006 – but still funny


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