Independent Lens

Kick It with the 9 Most Unforgettable Soccer Commercials

As far as I’m concerned, soccer is a year-round sport. I can find a footie game on the telly from somewhere in the world anytime I want, but the World Cup is the every-four-year event that makes even superficial fans take a keen interest. This year’s World Cup is happening in Russia, and although my country’s team failed to make the Cup (don’t get me started) and despite FIFA’s presumed corruption, I will be glued to the screen catching every round of action, watching the world’s most popular, and beautiful, sport.

One thing soccer fans have undoubtedly shared amongst themselves–and unsuspecting family members on Facebook–is a memorable soccer commercial. Seeing some of their favorite players being silly together, or playing a cinematically embellished game, to hawk a product, can be irresistible if done right Most of the ads share common elements–put some of the world’s best players together, or feature national or pro teammates–but each of the commercials I’ve chosen here created buzz when they came out, are especially clever or unique, and I count them among my favorites. Sure, most of them advertise shoes, soda or beer, but that’s where the money is, and the creativity follows the money.

Without further ado:

We’ll start right off with a brilliant strike right on goal, as it were, with this year’s ad for the World Cup from Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo, which will give you chills:

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Here’s a 1998 classic for Nike featuring the stars of Brazil playing a spontaneous, well-choreographed game in an airport.

Learn more about this iconic ad via FourFourTwo. The Nike advertising director at the time said: “We were starting in football… We wanted to be the No.1 sports brand and to do it we had to be the No.1 football brand, because we knew it would be hard to do it without football. Signing the Brazil team was the beginning of our journey.”

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This is one of the few really old school ads I could find that I fancied, featuring perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time, Brazil’s Pelé, who was also one of the sport’s greatest personalities. Here he is promoting a credit card and the ad isn’t particularly clever but Pelé’s charm sure does come through.

As a bonus, enjoy how much his charm even makes the ludicrous WWII soccer movie Victory (Escape to Victory) enjoyable–when he’s in it.

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This Carlsberg Pub Team ad from the UK was deemed “probably the best advert in the world” by the Independent:

So what’s so special about the ad? It’s a film that shows us World Cup winners including Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton and Alan Ball rubbing shoulders with modern heroes such as Stuart “Psycho” Pearce and Bryan Robson. Under the watchful eye of their manager, Sir Bobby Robson, they thrash a local pub team 8-0. But what gives the three-minute slot its charm is that we see these great past players going through the same routine as hundreds of pub teams up and down the country. Alan Ball sniffs his sock to see if it’s washed. Terry Butcher turns up with the bacon sandwiches. Peter Reid provides the banter. ‘Carlsberg don’t make pub teams,’ says a voiceover at the end of the ad. ‘But if they did, they’d probably be the best pub team in the world.’

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Nike’s “Good vs. Evil” ad featuring world soccer stars at the time, battling what seem like demonic Orcs:

Bill Hanstock of SBNation broke the ad down in greater detail, if you want to go deep into it.

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This conceptually clever and cinematic 2002 ad was directed by famed film director Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys; Brazil). The song featured in the ad, a remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” by Junkie XL (JXL), was released as a single “A Little Less Conversation” by “Elvis vs JXL” and went on to become a Number 1 hit in over 20 countries.

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Just for fun, if not quality, here’s what a soccer ad looked like in the 1960s–or at least an ad featuring a soccer star. Bobby Moore was one of England’s greatest players, and the leader of their 1966 World Cup-winning side. But here he is just having a pint and some darts in a local pub in this overly wholesome advert.

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This star-laden medieval-ish Pepsi ad is about as historically accurate as A Knight’s Tale and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it sure is fun.

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But we end with my favorite and the favorite of many, 2006’s “Jose +10” ad for Addidas’ “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign, featuring many of the world’s best players, helping kids arrange the world’s best street pick-up game in an unnamed Spanish-speaking country. Soccer fans will enjoy this detailed breakdown on The Comeback of the ad’s many in-game details.


What’s your own favorite soccer ad? Share it in the comments below.