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A Look at World Cup Advertising

If there's one thing the World Cup is good for, it's great ads.

Alexandre Schneider

Fun fact: I love ads. I don't mute the TV or change the channel when they come on, I study the ones in magazines in newspapers. This might be because I have a master's degree in advertising and it's my career, but my point still stands. Whether or not you see ads as snake oil salesmen trying to brainwash you or not, the World Cups over the years have undoubtedly given us some fantastic work to enjoy. Here are some of my favorites from 1998 and on (since that's when most of the best ads took place).

Nike - Airport '98


My favorite ad of all time and the reason why I chose I advertising as my career. Featuring El Fenomeno in 1998 at the time when he was considered to be the best footballer alive, it features a staggering amount of stars and was the first foray for Nike using Eric Cantona as the face of their football line (though his came on this one is a short one relative to the coming ads). Fun, filled with absurd ball tricks and paired with a classic song by legend Sergio Mendes, this, to me, has everything you'd want from an ad. Shame about R9's performance in the final though...

Nike - The Cage


With a budget of $100 million, this 2002 campaign didn't spare any expenses when it came to star power. Featuring stars such as Thierry Henriy, Francesco Totti, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro and much more. The concept involved eight teams of three stars competing in a first-goal-wins elimination tournament on a ship hosted by MC Eric Cantona and was one of Nike's most successful advertising campaigns of all time.

Adidas - Footballitis


In an industry that's dominated by Nike, Adidas hasn't always had the flashiest of commercials but 2002's Footballitis was a pretty clever one with a few moments which should make you chuckle out loud. Featuring a Zizou with a nice head of hair and clownish grin to match, the ad creates a retro feel as the players battle an imaginary condition forcing them to act like they're playing even whilst asleep. Fun stuff. Also, puppies playing football!

Adidas - Jose + 10


We've all imagined playing alongside legends while kicking the ball out on the street, so in 2006 Adidas made that a reality as two young boys take turns as team captains calling out superstars to join them. And then the historical legends come in. With some high quality use of old footage, Adidas did a great job of combining the stars at the time with the greats who came before them. Also featured, Arjen Robben diving after a child sticks his foot out. Some things never change.

Nike - Write the Future


This ad in 2010 was considered to be the sequel to the amazing "Take it to the Next Level" campaign and shows just how one's reputation can hang in the balance of one single play. Featuring Wayne Rooney going from trailer park bearded weirdo to full on beast mode in about 10 seconds and Simpsons-ized Cristiano Ronaldo, the ad really puts the viewer in the shoes of the players. Great stuff.

Coca-Cola - History of Celebration


Sometimes you just want to watch grown men acting like silly children having the time of their lives and in 2010 Coca-Cola put together a compilation of just that. With some snazzy editing of celebrations blending into one, the ad went along with the good times feel that the sponsors of that World Cup were trying to put on.

Banco de Chile - Mineros


This 2014 ad isn't getting the hype and glitz of any Nike ad, nor is it likely to be playing all across the world like a Coca-Cola one but the message is just as valid. Featuring the 33 Chilean miners who survived 69 days underground after being buried underground in 2010, the ad puts into context what's important and what isn't. Surely one of the best examples of national pride on the ad scene. Make sure to hit the closed caption button when watching.

Nike - Winner Stays


Probably the second most talked about World Cup ad of this year, this ad features a number of today's biggest stars and is another one which puts the viewer in the players' shoes. Nike's prized jewel of this World Cup season, the ad features CR and the lovely Irina Shayk, as well as some other players but who cares because Irina Shayk.

McDonald's - GOL!


Who doesn't love a good trick shot or a woman dribbling like a pro while wearing heels? Just a good old fashioned ad featuring some absurd tricks and master shots without really bashing the McDonald's brand over your head.

Beats by Dre - Game Before the Game


The most talked about ad this World Cup and rightfully so. This powerful ad runs for five minutes and focuses on the posterboy of Brazil, Neymar, and shows what the players go through prior to kickoff as well as the superstitions and fanaticism of the people who love them. The music is great, the cinematography is superb, the storyline is relatable. Excellent advertising is apparent immediately and this is just that.

Bonus round!

They're not exactly World Cup ads, but the CR v. Zlatan is sheer genius, the Cousins' Derby Portugal v. Brazil ad gives us a very young CR and this beauty just shows that Ronaldinho and Nike are meant for each other.

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