Football Advertising Campaigns

A week on from Italy winning the 2021 Euros and England losing, is it too soon? I think it is interesting to look back on some of the most interesting sport advertising campaigns and reflect on why they did or didn’t work. To create a successful campaign for sporting events, there has to be a certain buzz of excitement around the advert. This could mean a celebrity feature, for example using famous sporting stars like David Beckham, Tom Daley or Serena Williams. Some fast passed music, traditionally a summer, party anthem that can increase anticipation and build up. Normally is accompanied by sound effects of cheering to mimic crowds alongside bright and vibrant graphics and imagery. 

Let’s go back in time a little, to 2006 when the FIFA 2006 World Cup lead up, Carlsberg released a 180-second advert named ‘Old Lions’ to advertise for their new Carlsberg brand-pale lager. Created by Saatchi and Saatchi the advert contains famous football celebs, like Peter Shilton, Alan Ball, Terry Butcher, Bobby Ronson, Stuart Pearce, Peter Beardsley, Jack Charlton, Bobby Robson. The advert follows a lead up to a football game played by a local pub and a team of professional players, with the strapline being ‘Carlsberg don’t do pub teams. But if they did, they’d probably be the best pub team in the world.’ The advert had huge commercial success. It was at the time, the most successful interactive television campaign ever released with over 429,000 people clicking through to view additional content, which doubled the number achieved by competing campaigns launched by Budweiser and Carling. Old Lions spent two weeks at the number 1 position on the Google Video download chart. The campaign was rewarded by the advertisement and marketing communities, receiving many awards, including golds from the British Television Advertising Awards and the Eurobest Awards. In 2009, the British public voted it one of the top ten television advertisements of the decade. I would put its success down to that same excitement and build-up that the advert evokes that is required from a sporting advert in the lead up to a big sporting event and the use of football veterans to hook in football fans from across multiple ages, as the advert had a target audience of 16-34, men.

Now fast forward two years to 2008, the world was shocked with 2008 Euros and the psychic powers of an unsuspecting soft-bodied Cephalopoda. During the tournament, Germany had acquired an Octopus called Paul, who seemed to be able to predict the outcome of Germany’s success. After viewing viral videos, at the birth of social media and accompanied with televised coverage, Paul became an overnight football sensation. In 2010 for the World Cup, Paul was broadcasted on live German television, from Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, predicting the German’s victories. However, when it reached the semi-final in Johannesburg, South Africa, Paul predicted that Spain would overcome Germany, to which they did. This prompted German locals to go on and say they should eat him. Paul however did avoid this, although did, die a few months later, as octopuses sadly have a very short life expectancy of 1-5 years.

When it comes to cool football adverts, there is always some good music to accompany them. EA FIFA video games have music featuring while users work their way around the pitch. Beats since their entry onto the music scene have used mass product placement, working with big celebrities and advertisement campaigns to bring attention to their new products. They were seen featuring in many music artist’s videos like Miley Cyrus’s We Can’t Stop (2013) and Lilly Allen’s Hard out Here (2014). Beats have always been a brand for musicians and sportsmen. For the 2014 World Cup, they created an advertising campaign ‘The game before the game.’ The 5-minute video demonstrates different sporting personalities like footballer Cesc Fabregas, Uruguayan footballer Luis Suárez while also featuring US stars LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Lil Wayne. Also featuring heavily Neymar, a Brazilian footballer, who takes a large focus from the dialogued advert, with the encouraging phrases of ‘being your best’. It shows the sportsmen and women getting prepared for their match, while intense music, Jungle, by X Ambassadors, Jamie N Commons a very sporting song about encountering a large fight/challenge, with the lyrics ‘To reach the goals of these soccer stars, There’s records to break, medals to take Flags to wave, the city is ours.’ All these atypical trends and themes demonstrated by sporting adverts and the focus on music and the headphone product requires a catchy song with bold lyrics.

“To reach the goals of these soccer stars, there’s records to break, medals to take the flags to wave, the city is ours”

Sadly after the Euros this year we saw the English reaction to Italy’s win. It involved racial abuse, Italian football supporters being attacked at Wembley and football fans across central London leaving broken bottles, garbage and climbing on top of buses and public property like statues. This reaction is not what the latest Heineken advert tried to convey. The campaign named ‘Finally Together’ created by Publicis, was created to be a response to the lack of sport and football fans finally being able to come together after over a year of having to isolate themselves from one another. The advert depicts different fans from different countries being helped out by fans from different countries only to later find out they have been pranked. For example, a couple of Belgium fans wearing red, black and yellow clothing, are buying some Heineken from a supermarket. When it starts to rain outside, they look to the cashier who offers her an umbrella. When they open the umbrella once outside we see adorned on the top of the umbrella the words ‘Go Russia.’ The message of the advert and slogan being ‘Support Responsibly’. A message to encourage notoriously quite a passionate fanbase to support their team without tearing down others and especially discouraging racism, a stigma sadly still attached to football. I think the advert has a warm and humorous lightheartedness that is both effective in advertising the sharing of the beer product between friends while supporting football but also to come together rather than become segregated. Just a shame we could not have seen more of that this last Sunday. 

Stewart Russell-Moya

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