World Cup advertising: The cream of the crop

27 July 2018 / By Rapid Peaks

4 campaigns that stood out from the rest

Every four years, the advertising circus comes back into town: Away from the pitch it‘s the same battle over and over: sponsors vs. ambush marketers – expensive fees for an official FIFA sponsorship vs. smart storytelling approaches. Both sides go for the same goal: getting the biggest possible piece of the cake. What matters most is finding the right topics and articulating them in the right way. Because oftentimes consumers don’t pay too much attention to who is an official sponsor and who is just trying to ride the wave. With the last ball being kicked and France taking home the trophy, our Account Manager Adrian Büchelmaier took a closer look at the efforts from both sides and picked four of the best.


It should have been the grand finale at the end of Mercedes-Benz’ long-lasting sponsorship of the German Football Association (DFB): “Best Never Rest.” Thriving to reinvent oneself all the time and going for ambitious goals is what both MB and the German national team have in common. This aspiration was transported through emotional print and social media ads, short teaser clips as well as out of home advertisements and PoS activities. The focus of the campaign was the letter V in “Best Never Rest”, which was written in upper-case and thus symbolized the roman number 5 – alluding to Germany’s goal: the 5th World Cup title. All in all, the campaign was very brave, but because of the rather unsatisfying results of the German team it struggled to compete with the 2014 “Bereit wie nie” campaign.

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Beats by Dre had already written headlines with their ”The Game before the Game“ campaign for the 2014 World Cup. Four years later, they went even further: In their “Made Defiant” campaign they tell the story of World Cup participants Harry Kane, Benjamin Mendy, Neymar and Mesut Özil. The result is a 4-minute prime example of emotional storytelling – directed by none other than Guy Ritchie. For social media, Beats produced a number of shorter edits as well as adaptions with other testimonials under the hashtag #MadeDefiant.

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Together with their brand ambassador Mario Götze, Samsung showed the highs and lows of football taking a completely new approach: away from colorful and visually stunning images and towards the emotional hard-luck story of Mario Götze involving many injuries and, eventually, Jogi Löw not calling him up for the World Cup in Russia. The idea to tell a story of falling down and getting back up again is brave and does therefore stand out from the other campaigns. The clip was played on wide-coverage TV channels, in the Web as well as on owned channels. Simultaneously, it was promoted via social media, print, OOH, online and POS under the hashtag #GoForBiggerGoals.

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As the only official FIFA sponsor to make the list, adidas featured not less than 56 testimonials in their global campaign “Creativity is the answer.” Besides World Cup participants like Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Mohamed Salah, and Mesut Özil former football stars like Zinédine Zidane and David Beckham made an appearance. But that’s not all: adidas even brought in global superstars from other realms, e.g. A$ap Ferg, Von Miller, Damian Lillard, and, of course, Pharrell Williams plus influencers like Florencia Galarza. The message: creativity and imagination make the difference – on and off the pitch. To make yourself known you need to be brave and do the unexpected. Apart from the sheer body count the campaign stood out because of the highly personalized and data-driven geo and interest targeting. In Germany, adidas was also the first brand to launch Sponsored Portal Lenses for the World Cup. Through Augmented Reality users were able to enter the virtual locker room of the DFB team, move around freely and interact with objects.

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For almost four weeks, the World Cup has played a central role in the lives of football fans around the world. With France, there’s a new champion and a more than worthy successor to the German team. Still we are stuck with the question from the beginning: Which of the advertising campaigns was the most touching and will likely live on in people’s memories? For Adrian the answer is clear: Samsung’s courage to show the tragic hero story about their testimonial Mario Götze should be rewarded and also fits quite well with the current state of the nation. “The rise and fall (and rise again) of the tragic hero Mario Götze perfectly fits with the zeitgeist and is the kind of story that football Germany needs right now – especially looking forward to EURO 2020.”


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Rapid Peaks

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