Lessons Learned from Ads of the World Cup


Over the past few weeks, the whole world has contracted World Cup fever.

It’s one of the rare occasions where work comes to a halt for a few hours without punishment and often at the boss’s request, or the coach of the U.S. Men’s Team, Jurgen Klinsmann:

us soccer

It’s when neighborhood bars are filled to the brim with eager, enthusiastic fans that crowd themselves around a small TV set just to get a glimpse of the game. With nearly 25,000,000 American viewers tuning into a single game, it comes to no surprise that companies consequentially have their own competition going on: advertisements.

Ad space during the World Cup is for the most part limited to big name giants, especially those selling sports-related products. In this separate but entirely related World Cup arena, it is not simply about the frequency, but also which celebrities appear in it? Is it witty or creative? Is it something fresh and new? Does it play on tradition and bring us back to our roots?

Whatever the angle an advertisement may take, many of the most popular engage the audience in a unique way by appealing to the emotional, realizing our soccer fantasies, giving viewers a behind the scenes look, compiling user generated content or drowning viewers in sex appeal.

Take a look at our favorites and why they were!


People Love Exclusives

Currently a favorite pick for athletes and average citizens alike, Beats by Dr. Dre released an inspirational ad campaign starring Brazilian football phenomenon, Neymar Jr.

While the sheer star power is impressive in and of itself, what makes the ad exceptional is its depiction of Neymar beyond the context in which we know him best – the football field.

“The Game Before the Game” gives viewers a glimpse into the mental preparation undergone by these world class athletes. It is in these moments of focus and clarity that Beats by Dre has struck a chord in the hearts of viewers everywhere, as those tuning in get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the world’s best sportsmen and women savoring music and solitude just as athletes everywhere do.


Sex Still Sells

As the saying goes, “Sex sells,” and it always has. Attractive men or women increase the desirability of the brand, as consumers consciously or subconsciously believe product X will make them more beautiful and confident then they currently are.

Enter Victoria’s Secret bombshell Adriana Lima, whose allure is more than enough to garner double-takes from unassuming sports enthusiasts kicking it in the man cave.

As the men sit mesmerized, Lima and her equally model-esque team replace football paraphernalia with their “futbol” equivalents, reminding them what real “futbol” is.


Emotional Connections Run Deep

Stepping on to the biggest stage in world football means your wildest dreams or worst nightmares can become a reality. All the players have a choice to make — all in or nothing.

Tossing and turning in a restless sleep, Argentinian powerhouse Lionel Messi’s mind mind races as images fly across the screen— fans going wild, tense moments of anticipation, , dripping sweat and skills telling of athleticism— keeping him from a peaceful night’s sleep.
It becomes clear that the soccer field is the battleground and is certainly no place for the unprepared. Football players Dani Alves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Suárez, Xavi, Jordi Alba, Mesut Özil, Robin van Persie and David Villa all know there’s only one way to play with the whole world watching.
The ad reminds us, “Destiny is not fate. You have a choice. Fear or be feared. Hunt or be hunted. Evolve or die. Now or never. It’s black or white. all in or nothing.” The passion and drive, intense workouts in anticipation, the hours of practice that led to perfection, are all instances in which World Cup athletes go ‘all in’ like Adidas.


User-Generated Content Humanizes

Lately, it’s hard to come by an advertisement that is poorly shot or of bad quality. It seems that everything on TV is professional and well executed, acted out by models that oftentimes promote an unrealistic beauty ideal.

However, McDonald’s latest World Cup inspired ad is made up of home-video quality clips that showcase people from every age, race, gender and walk of life as they shoot, juggle and punt soccer balls around the world. It’s a feel-good commercial filled with real-world people enjoying their daily life as they laugh, smile and play soccer for the love of the game.


Tap into Viewers Imaginations

What begins as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill neighborhood pick up soccer game, evolves into a fast-paced high level match in which the best of the best go head to head. Originally only a field of teen players, with the simple pass of the ball, the receiving player can transform into the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pirlo, Thaigo Silva, David Luiz, Hazard, or Gotze.

As if this wasn’t enough of a fantasy, suddenly the beat up grass field becomes a professional soccer stadium, replete with zealous fans and stadium lights. The players are alternatively their original selves and their professional parallels, making for an exciting, ever-changing commercial.

What makes this ad a standout is it’s ability to capture a fantasy soccer game, in which an average city field can be transformed into one of World Cup status, accessible through your imagination.

What are your favorites this World Cup tournament?


**Written by Marketing intern Alison Takahashi, English and Psychology majors at Boston College (Class of 2016).

451 Marketing

From the team at 451 Marketing @451Marketing!

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