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The Beautiful Branded Game: See The 12 Best 2014 World Cup Ads

Marketers are on the pitch and ready to go. Here are our picks for early winners.

  • 01 /12 | Nike “Winner Stays”

    Wieden + Kennedy Portland transforms a playground pick-up game into a star-studded World Cup scrimmage of epic proportions. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gerard Piqué, Gonzalo Higuaín, Mario Götze, Eden Hazard, Thiago Silva, Andrea Pirlo, David Luiz, Andrés Iniesta (not Iniesto!), Thibaut Courtois, Tim Howard and a certain angry green Avenger make appearances. Did you know the Swoosh isn’t even an official sponsor? Exactly.

  • 02 /12 | Beats by Dre “The Game Before the Game”

    Here, Apple’s latest dance partner ties the product to the universal experience of pre-game--from the superstars in the locker rooms to the fanatics on the street. It's pitch perfect for the brand, and may just put it in the pantheon of great World Cup spots.

  • 03 /12 | McDonald’s “Gol!”

    This spot's impossibly impressive bag of visual tricks might actually be more fun than an augmented reality mobile game you play with your fries box.

  • 04 /12 | Banco de Chile “Chilean Miners: Road to The World Cup”

    No matter how many World Cup stars you have, it’s still impossible to beat the emotion of the 33 miners, who were trapped for 69 days in a collapsed Chilean mine, returning to Camp Esperanza in the Atacama desert to give their national soccer a team an epic pep talk.

  • 05 /12 | Nike “Dare to Be Brazilian”

    You know, just an everyday mellow tour by Neymar, Paulinho, Thiago Silva, Luiz, and Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari across the beaches, streets, and animated packed stadiums of the host nation.

  • 06 /12 | Paddy Power “Professor Stephen Hawking on England at the World Cup”

    The British betting shop enlists the world renown physicist to use General Linguistic Regression Modeling to help predict how England might perform on Brazil’s big stage. We’re no scientists, but pretty sure “England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo” isn’t all that optimistic.

  • 07 /12 | Pepsi “Unstoppable”

    The Wire and Luther star was enlisted to direct a short film for Pepsi’s “Beats of the Beautiful Game” series of music and film collaborations. Here, Elba helms a rather traditional nerds-and-jocks tale for DJ R3hab's "Unstoppable.” For a World Cup campaign, it’s got a pretty soft sports touch but should have plenty of crossover appeal among fans and those who couldn’t care less what all the footie fuss is about.

  • 08 /12 | Hyundai “Avoidance”

    The official car sponsor of the World Cup brings a couple of cutesy spots, the better of which chronicles the challenge of getting through the day without finding out the score of that game you’re recording to watch after work. Next time, call in sick. “Zip it, Brian!”

  • 09 /12 | UK Sun “#DoUsProud”

    The U.K.'s Sun newspaper and agency Grey London gathered 74 footballers to play a head game of noggin keep uppy to the tune of the Dexter’s covering The Seekers' "I'll Never Find Another You.”

  • 10 /12 | ESPN “Time Zone”

    It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, this awesome ESPN spot by Wieden + Kennedy New York reminds us of the reality that during the World Cup, we’re all on Brazil time.

  • 11 /12 | Adidas “The Dream”

    Take Fernando Meirelles (City of God), a new Kanye track and superstars like Lionel Messi, Robin van Persie, Luis Suárez, Mesut Özil, and more, and voila! You’ve got a pretty sensational spot about the choices athletes make to get to the World Cup.

  • 12 /12 | Adidas "I Am Brazuca"

    Here we get a soccer ball's eye view of the game, from the beach to the practice pitch to the bright lights of a World Cup game. Adidas says the brazuca ball--the official match ball of the 2014 tourney--is the most tested ball it's ever created. Even so, if your favorite team doesn't get a good bounce, chances are you'll still blame the brazuca.

The first whistle hasn’t yet sounded but brands have already been playing their World Cup games for months. And it’s no wonder. Marketers fork over more than $1.35 billion to FIFA for first dibs on the eyeballs of the 300 million soccer fans around the world who, starting June 12, will be watching the tournament over the next month.

Adidias Branded the official game balls, shown here is the Brazuca Final Ball

You’ve got giants like Nike and Adidas fighting over billions in soccer sales, while Samsung goes intergalactic to promote its growing line of wearable technology and Hyundai illustrates the skills required to DVR a game. A couple of surprises so far, Beats by Dre hits all the right notes in a spot that rivals the Swoosh’s penchant for the anthemic, and Banco de Chile’s stirring pep talk for its national team delivered by none other than the 33 Chilean miners who survived for 69 days in a collapsed mine.

Here are our favorites so far. Let us know your winners in the comments.