Every football fan knows what to expect when a major tournament is approaching, or a new type of boot is coming out – several new commercials involving some of the best players in the world at the time, and sometimes even other top sportsmen. From this, there are 2 things that we know for sure – Nike make a hell of an advert and Eric Cantona is everywhere.
These commercials make for great discussion with your friends; in the office or in the pub – who would you have in it instead of someone who is in it or which ones look the worst, there are endless points to discuss with your fellow football fanatics. However, there is one question that has never really been answered. There have been many suggestions, many opinions, but a definitive answer has never been given. Well, it has, but I checked, and those guys haven’t been taking the newer ones into consideration, so they lose (I’m going to eat my own words by the time the next major tournament rolls around)
So, without further ado, here is Spend It Like Beckham’s list of The 10 Best Football Adverts Ever!
10. ‘The Medieval Fight’ by Pepsi
This, while not boasting the most creative of names, provided a lot of enjoyment to football fans. Using the popularity of Euro 2004, Pepsi threw together some of the biggest names in football to create a battle between said names and a group of pillaging soldiers who were pinching a medieval village’s entire supply of Pepsi – which apparently happened quite often back then. Historical inaccuracies aside, it was a fun advert that showcased then best player in the world Ronaldinho’s samba skills.
Best Moment: About 1:34 in when Roberto Carlos develops levitation abilities and accompanying sound effects.
9. ‘The Mission’ – Nike
Footballers versus ninjas! What else could you ask for!? Nikes promotional video for their new ’rounder’ ball began airing around the beginning of the millennium and heavily featured Barnet legend Edgard Davids. It also featured some other big guns of yesteryear including Oliver Bierhoff and Josep Guardiola, the player, before he became Pep Guardiola, the manager. This team of stars were tasked with using their superior footballing skills to retrieve the ball from a bunch of ninjas who had stolen the ball – because that’s what ninjas do!
Cameos: No technical cameos, but Dwight Yorke’s appearance in the commericial is both brief and questionable.
Best Moment: Around 1:16 when Bierhoff rises like The Terminator to power volley the ball off of the lead ninja, revealing that the ninjas themselves were actually also Terminators.
8. ‘Winner Stays On’ – Nike
We all did it when having a kick about with our mates, “I’m Ronaldo!”, “Fine, I’m Zidane then!” (Showing my age here perhaps?) and that is the exact premise of Nike’s promotional advert for their new sock/boot hybrid and for their World Cup kits. It starts off with a bunch of kids having a kickabout and then shouting “I’m so and so” and then they would magically turn into so and so and the game itself became a worldwide spectacle. It was great in the fact that it managed to get some of the biggest stars of football into the one game – albeit through means of a green screen. An entertaining and clever commercial that deserves to be on the list.
Cameos: Kobe Bryant, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Irina Shayk and The Hulk – just, because!
Best Moment: About 1:38 when a kid shouts ‘Iniesto’ instead of ‘Iniesta’ and turns into a postman – comedy gold!
7. ‘Write the Future’ – Nike
This ad for the 2010 World Cup takes into account what the players think might happen to them if they make good or bad decisions on the park. It features a catchy song about Fabio Cannovaro; two possibilities of Wayne Rooney – one where he turns into a caravan dwelling dwarf and one where he is knighted; Ronaldinho introducing a new dance craze into the population and a movie about Cristiano Ronaldo starring Gael García Bernal – I would pay to see that movie. An entertaining look into what might run through a player’s head when faced with decisions on the park.
Cameos: Kobe Bryant (again), Alejandro Inarritu (the director of the commercial), Bobby Solo, Roger Federer, the aforementioned Gael Garcia Bernal, Homer Simpson (Doh!) and Andre Ooijer for some reason.
Best Moment: About 2:02 when Kobe tries to do Ronaldinho’s stepovers…and politely fails.
6. ‘Take it to the Next Level’ – Nike
Rising from Sunday League footballer to International Superstar – we’ve all dreamed it, we’ve all wanted it and this advert might be the closest we’ll ever get to it. Directed by acclaimed director Guy Ritchie, the ad takes the viewer on a first person journey through the eyes of a football. Getting scouted by Arsene Wenger, going through the paces at training, learning the trade from his teammates and eventually making their way to the World Cup Final where we discover that the protagonist is actually Dutch. Because even England’s most famous director doesn’t even believe that England could make it the the World Cup Final.
Best Moment: About 2:25 in when our hero pulls Theo Walcott’s shorts down in training and leaves the little guy rather angry.
5. ‘The Secret Tournament’ – Nike
The ‘Scorpion KO’? Remember it? I bet you do now. Eric Cantona (eccentrically) refereeing a group of 24 superstars in a 3 v 3 secret, first goal wins knock out tournament that took place in a cage on a boat. Because, why not? With a big budget and directed by Monty Python man Terry Gilliam, this advert for the 2002 World Cup was a lot of fun for everyone – in no small part down to Eric Cantona just being Eric Cantona. Again featuring the biggest stars in the world, also including Japanese superstar Hidetoshi Nakata as the tournament was being held in Japan and South Korea that year.
Cameos: While Cantona’s presence is not strictly a cameo – he is no longer a footballer, so it still has to go down as a cameo.
Best Moment: 3:05 – Losers go home! ‘Nuff said.
4. ‘OLÉ!’ – Nike
I’ll just be honest with you, the remaining videos are also all Nike. This was their promotion for Euro 2004 and featured the Brazil and Portugal international teams, about to play a game, until Figo gets cocky and starts taking the mick out of Ronaldo. And Ronaldo does not like it. This leads to a full scale game of…skills(?) that takes place not on the pitch, but in the stadium – wild, right? A lot of nifty footwork and sublime balancing skills on show from only the finest players – which includes a very young Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cameos: Eric Cantona – long haired version.
Best Moment: You forgot how it ended, didn’t you? 1:20 when the referee completely takes out Ronaldinho.
3. ‘The Impossible Team’ – Adidas
I lied! This one is Adidas, and it quite rightly makes the Top 3. While it does feature the big names of the time, Adidas go one further with this classy commercial, and superimpose legends from back in the day into the game allowing Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini to mingle with the likes of Zidane and Beckham. The ad starts off with two kids about to play a game and are picking teams. For some reason, the kid going first picks Djibril Cisse, but that aside, a enjoyable, though quick match is played between the kids, the superstars and the legends.
Cameo: Well, Beckenbauer and Platini I suppose.
Best Moment: 1:17 when one of the kids’ mother shouts for him to come home, he takes his ball off of Oliver Kahn and leaves.
2. ‘Bored at the Airport’ – Nike
I don’t know if it’s actually called that, but you know the one. Nike’s commercial for the 1998 World Cup in France featured then World Champions Brazil sitting around in an airport, looking very bored. That is until Ronaldo delves into one of the kit bags and pulls out a ball – the rest is history. The World Champions showing off their skills in a very busy airport is very enjoyable, and they manage to incorporate all things airport, including the baggage conveyor belt, which unfortunately eats one the players. Then at the end Ronaldo misses – a foreshadowing of the 98 Final perhaps?
Cameos: Eric Cantona – short hair version.
Best Moment: 0:35 – Denilson’s face. That is all.
1. ‘The Last Game’ – Nike
Nike’s animated masterpiece for the 2014 World Cup went viral just hours after it became available – and quite rightly so. More of a short film than a commercial, the story follows the big names of football and what happens to them after an evil mastermind creates clones of the players and in turn, makes the actual players redundant. His argument is that humans take too many risks, and that his clones are flawless…but is he right? Obviously not, as that story would suck. Led by Ronaldo (original version) they visit what appears to be a Mayan Temple for some reason and discover that it is their destiny to be the greatest team ever. They…risk everything. (Nike paid me to drop in the strapline there)
Cameos: Animated LeBron James and Animated John Motson’s voice.
Best Moment: The whole thing is great.
So, there you have. Spend It Like Beckham’s definitive list of the best football adverts ever. Do you agree? Is there a particular one that you feel should have been included? Let us know in the comments!