Just for Kicks

The World Cup is an exciting time, not only for soccer fans but for advertisers as well. With one of the highest viewing rates of any televised sporting event, soccer players aren’t the only ones who take center stage … or field.

Before the first kickoff, the reach of World Cup advertisements had surpassed that of Super Bowl 2014. According to marketing research by Google, advertisements related to the World Cup have been posted and/or shared 6.9 million times compared to the 4.7 million shares generated by Super Bowl commercials.

Fútbol, 1. Football, 0.

But how is this possible?

With such a culturally diverse fan base, soccer is considered the world’s most popular sport.  And, because of the way the game is played, advertisers have had to be more creative.

If you are familiar with soccer (unlike me), you probably know that it is a game played in complete halves with no breaks in between. While that may contribute to the high number of people actually tuning in, it doesn’t leave much room for conventional advertising.

This year, savvy marketers such as Nike, Adidas and McDonald’s have come up with a new way to grab viewers’ attention. Instead of traditional commercials, these companies are creating short films with very little product placement, generally not even revealing the name of the company until the very end. Some are funny. Some are inspiring. But they are all very entertaining.

“The Game Before the Game” is a short created for Beats by Dre. It shows the process of getting “game ready”— putting on your Beats headphones and tuning out the world. Viewers see a montage of people who are in need of some serious mental preparation, not only professional soccer players and a businessman but all kinds of celebrities:  Neymar Junior, Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez, sure, but also LeBron James, Serena Williams, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. By the time the ad is over, you feel as though you had watched a Hollywood film. I mean, who doesn’t love seeing their favorite celebrity?

Nike created an animated short that mimics the plot of “Space Jam,” which featured Michael Jordan helping some Looney Tunes characters win a basketball game against alien slavers. In Nike’s version,  All-Stars including Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne  Rooney and Neymar Junior are given new attire, faster shoes and some other advantages to beat the monsters on the soccer field. Although predictable, this ad appeals to both children and adults while also, of course, branding the well-known name of Nike.

Much like an actual movie, these short films leave you feeling refreshed. They are meant to be enjoyed and watched without feeling any pressure or urgency to acquire a new product.

These are ads you want to watch. And then watch again. And then share with everyone you know. That’s what makes a great advertisement, not something showcasing shiny products and phrases like “limited time offer.”

The most effective advertisements are the ones that amuse and uplift. If at the end of an advertisement I am laughing, smiling, or hitting the “share to Facebook” button, it’s done its job.