Continuing World Cup Month, we present the 15 best football commercials of all time.
Nike founder Phil Knight told The Guardian following the 50th Cannes International Advertising Festival, "My number one advertising principle - if I have one - is to wake up the consumer." It's safe to say that he and Nike's work - specifically with long-tenured agency Wieden + Kennedy - has permeated popular culture and still has people talking long after the spectacle or product they were tasked to serve up eyeballs for is but a distant memory.
While fútbol is truly a global game, Nike continues to reign supreme when it comes to advertising. Known for going "low budget" for Joga TV as well as pumping out millions of dollars for big name directors and for cameo after cameo from celebrities, Nike serves as the gold standard for football advertising. But, there have been other companies that have challenged and even surpassed the Swoosh and Portland's premiere agency. Hocking everything from beer to sport drinks, and new boots to overall lifestyle, these are the best 15 football commercials of all-time with a couple of honorable mentions.
15. "Pub Team" Company: Carlsberg Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Year: 2006
Featuring some of the greatest players to ever don an English football kit from days of yesteryear including Peter Shilton, Des Walker, Bryan Robson, Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, Alan Ball, Jack Charlton and Bobby Charlton, the Carlsberg spot perfectly captures the notion that with age a player may lose flare, but certainly not the hard-nosed play needed even if you're merely a "pub team."
14. "Streaker" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 2003
Directed by Frank Budgen in December 2002 at Millwall's pitch in London, it starred 32-year-old Mark Bowden in the title role - along with 300 extras and the notable absence of a wardrobe department for our pitch invader.
13. "The Road" Company: Gatorade Agency: Element 79 Partners Year: 2006
Created for Gatorade to support the United States as they headed over to Germany for the World Cup (where they'd lose one and draw two), the real gem of the spot is the usage of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as a subtle nod that football isn't America's pastime, but the vitriol they face abroad is very much real.
12. "Truly Madly Deeply" Company: PUMA Agency: Droga5 Year: 2010
On paper, the thought of a bunch of Tottenham fans singing Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply" sounds like something that would be a stage of purgatory, but instead it's goosebumps-inducing perfection.
11. "Impossible Team" Company: adidas Agency: 180 Amsterdam Year: 2006
Produced as part of a two-part campaign dubbed "Equipo" and "Partido," the ad finds José and Pedro - two Spanish-speaking boys - fantasizing about who would be on their dream team. As if Field of Dreams, their hopes become a reality with players from the past like Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini turning up for a piece of the action.
10. "Airport" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 1998
Featuring the likes of Ronaldo, Romario, Roberto Carlos and Denilson dribbling their way through an airport - presumably while waiting to depart for France (where they'd lose to the hosts in the finals), "Airport" perfectly captures the feeling that a football pitch isn't merely a pristine grass field, but simply what you and your friends/teammates make of it.
9. "Leo Messi is All In" Company: adidas Agency: Sid Lee Year: 2011
Director Romain Gavras is perhaps best known for his controversial work on M.I.A.'s "Born Free" video or Justice's "Stress" which hit with a voyeuristic thud, but the director managed to bring his documentary-style of shooting to the world of advertisement in adidas' string of "All In" campaigns surrounding Leo Messi. While there's a more lifestyle-driven version of the video featuring the likes of Katy Perry, Derrick Rose, David Beckham B.o.B and skateboarders Silas Baxter-Neal, Lem Villemin and Jake Donnelly, we prefer this one.
8. "Secret Tournament" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 1996
Marking the the first time Elvis Presley’s estate granted permission for any of the artist’s material to be remixed, Junkie XL's take on "A Little Less Conversation" served as the perfect energetic compliment to director Terry Gilliam's take on eight mini dream teams competing in a secret cage match with Eric Cantona as referee.
7. "R10 Crossbar" Company: Nike Agency: Framfab Denmark Year: 2005
In today's advertising landscape, when a person asks "is that real?," the creative team has definitely done its job. Look no further than Ronaldinho's unbelievable - albeit fake - show of accuracy that definitely served as a precursor to Patrick Kane's "hidden cam" puckhandling video for his VAPOR APX2 stick as well as this batting practice video.
6. "Joga Bonito: Skill" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 2006
The dual between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovič is a back-and-forth for the ages - not only one we enjoyed seeing when both were younger upstarts - but surely one that will be on display in Champions League group stages for years to come.
5. "Good Vs. Evil" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 1996
If Mortal Kombat met fútbol, this is what would happen. Created for the Euro 96 tournament, it featured a team of European all-stars against a team of blood-thirsty monsters whose content was the priciest ad ever for Nike at that time and a favorite of founder Phil Knight.
4. "Joga Bonito: Ronaldinho: Never Grow Up" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam Year: 2006
Combining archival footage of Ronaldinho on the futsal court both as a young man and in the relative contemporary, we're urged of the notion that "when you were a kid it was easy. You were not afraid to dare... to try. You did it, just because you liked it."
3. "Winner Stays" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 2014
The second part of its "Risk Everything" football campaign for 2014, Davide Grasso, Chief Marketing Officer for Nike said, "'Winner Stays' taps into an experience that every young player around the world will recognize – competition with friends and the idea of playing with your heroes or pretending to be them." The full list of players featured in the film is: Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gonzalo Higuaín, Eden Hazard, Andrea Pirlo, Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Mario Götze, Thiago Silva, Thibaut Courtois, Tim Howard and David Luiz, as well as appearances by Kobe Bryant, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Irina Shayk and The Incredible Hulk.
2. "Take It to the Next Level" Company: Nike Agency: 72andSunny Year: 2008
Many who love the beautiful game have thought, "I wonder what it would be like to play at that level?" Director Guy Ritchie serves up that exact scenario in this first-person account of a player recruited to play at Arsenal before going on to star for the Dutch National Team. Packed with everything from dazzling fútbol wizardry, to star cameos, to WAGS, and the blood, sweat and tears needed to compete at that level, this is the closest most of us will ever get to hallowed sporting ground.
1. "Write the Future" Company: Nike Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Year: 2010
Nike once again turned to a Hollywood heavyweight in the form of Alejandro Iñárritu for another "what if" scenario. Looking at the likes of Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabrigas and others--and a supporting cast that included Kobe Bryant, Gael Garcia Bernal and Homer Simpson - the premise is simple: In the biggest games of their careers, football stars consider the butterfly effect of a single action on the field.
In an expanded look by Fast Company at the creative team responsible for executing the grand vision, creatives Eric Quennoy and Mark Bernath of Wieden + Kennedy said, "When Nike tells you at the World Cup briefing they want to see something that’s never been seen before and never been done before, you gulp, inhale deeply, try hard to not be sick, and then start working your ass off. As a client, that level of ambition and passion to do something great is at once butt-clenchingly scary and everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Nike gave us their full trust and support and pushed us every step of the way to make it better. It was one of those great, synergistic periods when everyone is working towards the same vision."
"Giggs at Home" Company: Reebok
"I Kiss Football" Company: adidas
"Ole" Company: Nike
Check out the rest of our World Cup Month features here.