Brands Making Moments for the World Cup
By Cam Rizzardini
Around the globe, and especially here at Name & Number, the World Cup has our hearts all aflutter. Only once every four years do the biggest names in the game get the chance to make history, seize glory, and drive tremendous awareness and affinity for their brands. The world’s finest creative teams are set to clash against one another on marketing’s biggest stage. The soccer should be pretty great, too. Here’s a look at a few of the campaigns that have rolled out as the tournament kicks off.
U.S. SOCCER + TED LASSO
We’d been wondering which brand would be first to successfully deploy Ted Lasso for the World Cup and we’ll be darned if it wasn’t the man himself. More specifically, his network at Apple in collaboration with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The billboards featured motivational notes in the distinct voice of Coach Lasso for every member of the US squad, installed in their hometowns. They were unique to each player, deeply specific, and on-brand for Lasso. What’s particularly smart about this is the use of corporate markings. There weren’t any. Often required, logos and the like just as often break the spell for consumers of an ad. Apple spotted the opportunity to authentically engage “ad-free” with communities all across the US while still educating them about a product and where to find it. Upon reading the messages, you might not even know it was an Apple TV show behind the billboards. But you’d know what it was and what to do with it. We're big fans of this campaign.
FRITO-LAY + SOCCER VS. FOOTBALL
For US soccer fanatics, the soccer vs football debate is likely a bit tired, but Frito-Lays understood the assignment. Super fans aren’t the target here; they’re already invested. They’re already going to see all the Frito-Lay activations (of which there are many) around the World Cup. You never want to completely write off the hardcores, but when there’s a moment so big, so engaging that it transcends segmentation and common interest, you can choose to go wide with it. Reach as many as you can; get those folks off the fence. Throw in a little Becks and Manning banter and it’s difficult not to smile at this ad. Even for you, football purists.
Photo via Jon Arnold/Twitter
ADIDAS + HOMETOWN MURALS
adidas is far from the first to market with murals, but brands don’t often execute them effectively. When they do, they make a big impact. That’s what adidas achieved when they hired local artists to make their American athletes larger than life in their hometowns across the US. Influencers want to take photos with them, photogs want to post them, and tourists want to visit them. They show up on Google Earth, on Yelp reviews of businesses nearby, they are literally embedded in the infrastructure. They add character and quickly become a part of a city and its culture.
WANNA GO TO MCDONALD'S?
McDonald’s is one of the very few brands nearly as universal as the World Cup itself. So, they leaned into that unique strength with this ad spoken in 10 languages, shot in four international locations and rolling out in more than 75 markets simultaneously for the first time ever. Who knew there were so many ways to say “McDonald’s?” Now, we might’ve buried the lede…There’s our friend, Ted, again. And that’s the point. Ted isn’t the lede. Being keenly aware of the many brands likely leveraging the beloved character, McDonald’s wisely looked toward other stars like TikTok influencer Khaby Lame, K-Pop sensation ITZY, and Twitch streamer Edwin Castro to carry the story, simply making Lasso a fun little cherry on top of an already engaging ad.
ADIDAS + FAMILY REUNION
All of these celebrities and influencers are cool, but where are the true stars of the show? Where are all the players? Similarly to McDonald’s, adidas leveraged an advantage that very few brands have, and that’s access to players. By strategically selecting stars from all different parts of the world with their own unique characteristics and meeting them up at a bus stop, adidas captured the ultimate ethos of the World Cup - bringing the world together. Revealing British artist, Stormzy, as the VO at the finish was a nice touch as well. Unless you’re Aflac, brands that rely on voice recognition alone miss the opportunity to deliver a payoff to their audience.
WRAPPING IT UP
Say you know nothing about soccer, let alone the World Cup. What is it all about? From these campaigns alone, you’d probably say it’s about support, competition, common ground, and bringing people together. As soccer nutters who’ve consumed this event their entire lives, we’d say that’s pretty bang on. Which means these savvy advertisers did their jobs. But that’s not all.
Now, say you know nothing about brand marketing. That’s not true of course, but let’s just say. What strategies did these campaigns employ?
They used star power both directly and indirectly, they made bold statements not just digitally but on the ground in markets they hoped to reach, they capitalized on things people already love, they appealed to the masses without offending super fans, they did their research, demonstrated inclusivity, inspired real emotion, didn’t oversell it and most importantly, they leaned into their brand’s unique strengths.
Now, let’s play some soccer!
Part of the Name & Number Collective, Cam Rizzardini is a Clio award-winning brand strategy and content specialist. His unique background as both a writer and performer brings a unique perspective to his storytelling approach. Over the past decade, he has worked for a host of notable Pacific Northwest teams and brands including Seattle Sounders FC, the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Kraken, Helly Hansen, and evo, among others.