The World Cup’s here! Depending on your personal taste, that might be the best or the worst part about this summer. If you’re an advertiser, it’s an excuse to make a new advert which refers to football and vaguely alludes to the tournament. Just like the teams playing in the group stages, the adverts range wildly in quality from mini-movies to sexist adverts seemingly lodged in the 1970s. No matter how tenuous the link might be between their product and football, advertisers have all jumped on the bandwagon. Here’s some of the ads you might see in the UK right now!
EE might as well stand for “Everyone’s Exasperated (with Kevin Bacon)”. In this advert, Kevin Bacon is on a rollercoaster with a young boy, but he’s not talking about the literal “rollercoaster ride” – no! He’s watching the England match on his phone! Never mind the fact that there’s no more guaranteed way to drop it.
Score: 3. At least Kevin Bacon is actually watching a proper football match, albeit in the most ridiculous location (he’d stand a good chance of winning the BBC’s World Cup Seat thing). But it loses points for making Bacon say “they’ve got a free kick on the edge of our box!” It does not sound like he understands those words. And just why is he supporting England over the USA?
Eating a pasty might not seem like it’s connected to football. But Ginsters pride themselves on associating their products with masculinity. Because every man kicks a football, right?
Score: 5. On one level, it’s a sexist assumption that every man wants to impress a woman by kicking a ball. On the other hand, it’s not like the woman looks that bothered by what he does; she just wants him to give the ball back, because otherwise he’d be a bit of a dick. It’s not just a man thing, though, wanting to kick the ball back – it’d be nice to see a partner advert with a woman in the man’s place.
Simple advert, simple message. To be a good footballer, you need a close shave.
Score: 6. Trying to link shaving and football might be a long shot, but at least they’ve got a footballer to star in the advert. It loses points for not showing Joe Hart swearing and kicking hoardings as he tries to get his ball back. And look, you can get your flag on a razor!
Carlsberg is probably the lager most associated with football, following a succession of successful adverts around every major tournament. And here they’ve snagged three faces who might not be current footballers, but will be easily recognisable to any British football fan, in Jeff Sterling, Ian Wright and Paddy McGuinness. It’s easy to imagine having a heated debate with them in the pub about the latest match.
Score: 7. It’s a fantasy on every level. At its core, it’s just not believable. An "optimist" just hoped that England would make it out of the group stages. But on the plus side, at least the advert acknowledges that there might be a couple of women in the pub amongst the sea of men.
Like Nike, Adidas have more than one advert out to advertise the tournament. This is House Match, the more interesting one. It pits the old school team of Beckham and Zidane against the new kids Bale and Moura in a house football match after the young ‘uns get too cocky about their prowess on FIFA.
Score: 8. It’s got football in it, and Beckham is probably the most recognisable footballer ever in this country. And as good as Bale and Moura are, it might have worked better as an advert if Adidas had included at least one player going to these finals (the other advert does, but it’s not as fun).
This World Cup, Nike have three adverts out, but this is probably the best. Nike always pull out all the stops (previous adverts have been directed by such luminaries as Terry Gilliam and Guy Richie), and here they’ve gone for a little animated movie. An evil scientist has cloned the world’s best players, who promptly win everything and send the human players into retirement. It’s up to Ronaldo (the good one, not the evil Portuguese one) to bring the human players back, reminding them how much they love football. Let’s be honest, if this was a real film, it would be brilliant, with dystopic themes, winning for love, and Zlatan.
Score: 10. Nike can’t actually say the words “World Cup”, but we all know what they’re alluding to, and their footballers are some of the world’s most famous and successful.
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Also, check back later for a round-up of some World Cup adverts from around the world!