Top 10 best ever World Cup ads

Excitement around the 2014 FIFA World Cup is building to fever pitch as we enter the final days before the competition kicks off in Brazil, with both sponsors and non-sponsor brands alike stepping up their marketing activity. Using methodology with the scientific virtue of a FIFA World Cup host nation ballot, we’ve picked out our top 10 favourite tournament-related campaigns from over the years.

10. McDonald’s – What Practice Makes (1994)

An ad picked purely for its choice of lead actor: a young Scott Parker, sporting a trademark 1990s haircut and short shorts combo, performing a keepy-uppy sequence in his back garden. “This commercial is dedicated to all those who know what practice makes…” says the voiceover – the number 28 shirt at Fulham, apparently.

9. Mars – Singing for England (2010)

Keeping with the nostalgia theme, Mars’ 2010 World Cup effort reprised the John Barnes’ rap from 1990 number one hit World in Motion, to all of our collective delight. The ad sees Barnsey slip a cassette into a boombox before launching straight into his classic rap. Altogether now: “You’ve got to hold and give, but do it at the right time…” OK, it’s perhaps even more cringeworthy now than it was way back then. Onwards.

8. Pepsi – Sumo (2002)

Raul, Roberto Carlos, Edgar Davids, David Beckham, take on giant sumo wrestlers for the chance to win a cold crate of Pepsi (you’d think their sponsors would be more generous). Highlights include the grunted comedic delivery of the “amateurs” sign-off line and Becks once again demonstrating his acting skills are decidedly less “golden” than his infamous nickname.

7. Carlsberg – Team Talk (2010)

Adopting the first-person camera angle we’ve become more accustomed to seeing from Nike, Carlsberg’s 2010 “Team Talk” stirs up the emotions of an England player as he leaves the dressing room and steps out on to the pitch, invigorated by some stirring words from his manager, Stuart Pearce. “If Carlsberg did team talks…” the ad states proudly, although we presume the England team in question still went on to suffer a demoralising 0-0 draw against a rank outsider.

6. Nike – Write the Future (2010)

From painting the centre circle line onto a muddy pitch; to transforming into a caravan-dwelling, pot bellied, bearded version of himself; then five seconds later sprinting to perform a stunning slide tackle on France’s Franck Ribery; only to bound off the pitch and nearly risk his own neck after jumping up to hug the Queen after being knighted, it’s all in a day’s work for Wayne Rooney in Nike’s enigmatic 2010 “Write the Future” spot.

Other stars in the full-length ad include Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Didier Drogba and, er, Homer Simpson.

5. Adidas – Jose + 10 (2006)


Two boys assemble an all-star squad of footballing legends both past and present (and Jermain Defoe) to play in a street match outside their house. The full two-minute version of the ad sees Kaka, Beckenbauer, Platini, Lampard and Riquelme, among others, play an amusing game of footy before one of the boys is called in by his mum for tea.

4. Beats by Dre – The Game Before the Game (2014)

Apple’s Beats Electronics brand isn’t a World Cup sponsor and players have been banned from wearing its chunky headphones within the vicinity of venues to protect the rights of official partner Sony. But such restrictions haven’t stopped Beats capturing a huge share of voice ahead of the 2014 tournament.

The beautifully shot “Game Before the Game” ad has already amassed 6.8 million YouTube views and many Twitter users have already crowned it the best spot of this year’s World Cup. Watch out for cameos from the likes of Lil Wayne, LeBron James and Nicki Minaj as well as the usual football star ensemble.

3. Adidas – Footballitis (2002)

It’s unusual for a sports brand not to go po-faced in a World Cup campaign, but in 2002, Adidas showed us its funny side with its “Footballitis” ad. Footballitis can be suffered by famous players, normal people and even canines, the ad amusingly warns. “There Is no cure but we are working on an ointment,” Adidas reassures us before showing a shot of what looks to be a jar of watered-down Bovril. Just what the doctor ordered on a cold Monday night on the terraces.

2. Carlsberg – Old Lions (2006)

Top moments in this funny 2006 spot include Stuart Pearce interrupting the late Sir Bobby Robson’s team talk to take a phone call from his mum, Peter Reid’s dodgy y-fronts and Jackie Charlton objecting to being booked for “shirt pulling”. Carlsberg don’t do pub teams, but if they did they’d probably be the best – and most likeable – pub team in the world.

1. Nike – Airport (1998)

We finish our run down the wings of the World Cup ad annals with a belter from Nike, fittingly with a Brazilian theme. The football ad that set the bar high early for all World Cup ads to follow, Nike’s 1998 effort featured the Brazilian World Cup team running through an airport showing off their brand of footballing wizardry, with reckless abandon for safety and security.

Sadly their silky skills didn’t quite transfer to success in the tournament itself, where a tired-looking squad lost 3-0 to France in the final. A lesson for anyone thinking an airport kickabout is a sensible idea.