Another World Cup summer, another sparkly new advert for lads across the country to get excited about. Nike could have settled a large portion of the third world’s debt if they had donated the money spent on this gloriously elaborate piece of football porn to the under-priveliged, but this way we get to see Ronaldo nutmeg Homer Simpson! So with this month’s festival of footbal just about to kick-off, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the sublime and ridiculous ways in which advertisers have tried to flog us boots and beer..
If we learned one thing when we were compiling this feature (apart from how to shield our computer screens from envious sales bods) it was that Nike tend to do the football advert better than anyone else. By blending some ridiculous skills with their penchant for comedy, they usually make sure that their ad is the thing everyone is talking about in the playground/office/pub the next day.
Aired during the 2002 World Cup, this commercial boasted an outrageous array of stars from across the globe – and Hidetoshi Nakata. While showing off like this would get you a good kicking on a Sunday morning, Nike advert resident Eric Cantona actively encouraged it and even went to the trouble of inventing a moniker for said ball wizardry. This football orgy was also famous for sending Elvis vs JXL to number one in 20 different countries…
Alf Ramsey aside, Bobby Robson (god rest his soul) was probably the best coach the national side has ever had. It turns out that his final managerial task would be to guide The Old Lion pub team through a game against local rivals The Dog & Duck. Made up of countless former England legends, his side stormed to victory with ease. They were probably knocked out of cup the following week on penalties however. Old habits and all that.
Reebok took a very different approach to advertising in the late ninties with a string of shorts which suggested what some of the Premiership’s greatest players might have been doing had they not purchased that crucial pair of football boots at some point early in their career. We saw Peter Schmeichel as a Danish pig-farmer, Ryan Giggs selling flowers at the road side, Andy Cole as a chip shop assistant and Dennis Bergkamp juggling edam in a cheese factory. He seemed to enjoy his train set though…
Another beer company jumped on the football bandwaggon a few years back in an ad which saw Peter Kay ruining a warm-up with a hoof that would have brought a tear to Sam Allardyce’s eye. Whether it helped shift many pints of John Smiths remains unclear, but the short masterpiece soon became a cult hit with pub footballers everywhere.
Adidas have been given the runaround by their American rivals in recent years, but back when they could make a sports commercial which didn’t feature Noel Gallagher and Snoop Dogg, they were capable of matching those imaginative bods at Nike. As you can tell by the inclusion of Paul Gascoigne, that was some time ago, but this battle of the clones starring Alessandro Del Piero and his mates was still a classic.
OTB could have done with a bit of entertainment when we were stranded in an airport by Mount Doom last month, sadly instead of the Brazillian football team, all we had was an expensive Who Wants To Be A Millionaire fruit machine. Not much of a comparison to be honest.
Amateur football at Hackney Marshes is the stuff of legend and Nike tapped into the rich vein of everymanism by sending some of the premiership’s stars to slug it out with their less distinguished and hungover Sunday morning brethren in 1997. The pitches are in pretty good nick, but apart from that, everything is instantly recognisable. Ian Wright, Eric Cantona, Robbie Fowler and David Seaman provide the talent.
Nike really pushed the boat out in 1995 when they sent to group of players to take on Satan and his friends in a colosseum of the damned. This was one of Eric Cantona’s first appearances for the brand and the image of him smashing penalty through the chest of an orc will be remembered sentimentally by a generation of football fans who still turn their collars up when they go for a kickabout.
Topping our definitive list of football marketing is this shaky hand cam effort from Nike (who else) which tells the story of a non-league – and presumably Dutch – footballer being plucked from obscurity by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. After being thrust into the first team in a rise to fame that would have put even SuBo in the shade we watch intently as our friend does a lot of training, throws up constantly, meets some lovely ladies, gets kissed by Cesc Fabregas and scores against Portugal. Not a bad season then..
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