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Our favourite Football-based TV adverts

2nd July 2021

#Featured #Marketing

With the Euros under way, we look back at some of our favourite football-based TV adverts through the years.

Euros fever has swept across the office, and cheering on the Three Lions has given us the perfect opportunity to revisit some of our favourite football-based TV adverts from over the years.

Creating an iconic football advert is no easy feat, ultimately you are dealing with athletes rather than actors and subsequently, this presents certain challenges. But the modern-day footballer is not just a star on the pitch and brands use this talent to gain an advantage over their competitors. Here is a selection of some of our favourite adverts through the years.

Nike, Airport ’98, 1998

For many of us in the office, France 98 is our first World Cup memory. From an England perspective, a tournament remembered for the emergence of David Beckham, Michael Owen’s stunning goal against Argentina and subsequent penalty shoot-out misery. This was a tournament which brought France together as one, not just on the pitch, but from a social and cultural perspective. With rising political tensions in France at the time, their multi-cultural team whose star, Zinedine Zidane almost single-handedly won them the final, showed the positive impact that sport can have in society.

A stand-out memory of the tournament was Brazil’s journey to that final. Playing in their iconic yellow Nike kit, their team featured an incredible amount of stars, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Denilson, Cafu and lead by one of the sport’s greats, Ronaldo. These stars all featured in one of the most memorable football TV adverts. The squad dribbled a football through an airport with incredible style and finesse. Coupled with a great soundtrack in the form of Sergio Mendes’ ‘Mas Que Nada’. It was an advert which showed the skills of the players but also their personality and character. Ultimately it was an advert that made me beg my parents to buy me a Brazil shirt that summer. Job well done, Nike.

You can view the advert here.


Nike, The Scorpion Cage, 2002

Nike very much leads the way with football adverts. And after the success of Airport ’98, they were back again four years later with The Scorpion Cage, in advance of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The concept of this ad was simple. It saw eight, three-a-side teams compete in a cage, playing in a “first goal wins” knockout tournament. These teams comprised of some of the greatest and iconic players of the era: Francesco Totti, Edgar Davids, Luis Figo, Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry to name just a few, with Eric Cantona acting in the role of referee.

Besides the successful global advertising campaign, the marketing strategy involved the execution of local tournaments in several major capital cities of the world, being held in schools, sporting venues and stadiums. The concept was the same, teams of three players had to be registered, and one-goal matches were played in successive knock-out rounds up to the final matches in cages. The advert had further success as it was the catalyst of the much-loved FIFA Street video games. The first of which was released a couple of years after the advert aired.

You can view the advert here.


John Smith’s – Ave It, 2002

Where Nike are known for their slick, multi-million-pound advertising campaigns, starring iconic footballers. John Smith’s produced the perfect antidote to this with their “Ave It” advert in 2002. Filmed on a muddy pitch with comedian Peter Kay. The intention of the advert was always to be a little off-the-cuff, with the hope for it to be all done in just one take. After numerous attempts of Kay trying to volley the ball, many of which he missed entirely. He finally made connection and volleyed the ball completely out of shot.

The story goes that Kay had no script and was asked to just shout whatever came to mind as he struck the ball. “Ave it” is a phrase that was later used by David Beckham, Robbie Williams, and fans on the terraces up and down the country.

You can view the advert here.

Sports Direct, Just A Game, 2021

If you’ve watched any of this year’s Euros matches on TV, you’re likely to have seen a host of football-related adverts: Deliveroo, Just Eat, Snickers and Heineken to name just a few. But one that stands out is Sports Direct’s ‘Just A Game’ ad.

Their television, OOH, in-store, content, media and influencer programme takes fans on a light-hearted journey through the meaning of football. The campaign, starring Eric Cantona (who always seems to be in the good adverts!), shows a non-believer the power of the sport; how it connects so many, why it bonds communities and demonstrates why it’s never ‘just a game’.

The advert features a host of footballers including Jack Grealish, Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson and Melanie Leupolz. The creative was conceived and developed by Copa-90.

You can view the advert here.

Sugar Puffs x Newcastle United, 1996

Finally, a bit of a left field choice. Although this is something that is a little before my time, as a Newcastle United fan, it is hard not to overlook this advert from the mid-1990s. In a time when Newcastle was everyone’s “second team”, and when they were known for their exciting brand of attacking football and genuine title contenders (how things have changed), they were involved in a TV advert for the cereal Sugar Puffs. The advert begins with Kevin Keegan talking about his brand-new signing the Honey Monster, before a clip of the Honey Monster is shown scoring a last-minute winner for Newcastle at Wembley. If only.

You can view the advert here.

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