January 2010

Who’s In Your Top Five?

With the “World Cup of the NFL” (aka: Super Blow, errrr… Bowl) on the sporting horizon, I can finally allow myself to get excited about the best thing the No Fun League has to offer: COMMERCIALS!!! Thanks to all the stoppages in play, there is more time for ads than live ball action! Yes, the game that wraps up all the excitement of (the pace laps of) the Daytona 500, (the seventh inning stretch of Game 4 of) the World Series, and (pretty much all) the NBA has to offer all in one nifty, finger-food-double-dipping, wardrobe-malfunctioning, bigger-than-the-Titanic-and-Godzilla-combined hyperbole jort-fest is nigh! Oh, glee is me.

Anyway, once I got thinking about great commercials, my mind – as it is wont to do with most anything – turned to football (you know, the game you play with your feet and an actual ball? That’s right: football). So I got a bit nostalgic and went on a quest to track down the “best of recent memory” footy TV ads which I now present to you as (cue the orchestra): My Top-5 Favorite Soccer Commercials.

Now, as with any personal selection, these selections are personal. Clear enough? Right, on with it. These were my criteria: 1) it had to be an ad that ran on TV in the States, and 2) it had to be an ad that was about soccer related items, as opposed to merely using soccer to sell (let’s say) business management software. With that in mind and heart in throat, let the countdown begin!

5. Nike: Ronaldo FIFA 1996 Player of the Year

I love the concept. How many kids around the world go to bed whispering this simple wish? Then to see this one man run half-field shedding tackle upon tackle en route to finding the back of the net is astonishing in as much as it gives you a sense that Ronaldo IS one man like no other. Every time I see it I go looking for my boots.

4. Adidas: Jose + 10

“Jose, jugamos?” And it is on!…until mom calls the boy home, that is. This is one of my two favorite fantasy spots along with Thierry Henry destroying his home in an effort to keep the ball from his dog, which he pretends is (and the viewer sees as) the nasty half of ManU. The premise here is simple: what if you could pick any ten players to complete a squad around you. As for our man Jose, he is learned enough to pick “Der Kaiser” from the past and to switch Arjen Robben to the left; both are moments worthy of an approving chuckle. We finish up play with a 1966 flashback: a good old fashion goal-line controversy between Englishman Lampard and German ‘keeper Kahn. Good fun all around.

3. Nike: Brazil delayed

Honestly, the Nike/Brazil combo could easily take most of the Top-5, but in an effort to be fair to the rest of the football world I simply chose one. My other options here were the Brazil v Portugal pre-game “ole”-off in the tunnel that culminated in the ref having to tackle Ronaldinho to START the game, and the Brazil bus-ride/locker-room brotherhood that built up to a classic Joga Bonito goal. However I am happy with my choice here, as it was the one commercial that could make me break my neck in an effort to run back to the TV once I heard “Mas Que Nada” kick off. Just like you can’t keep Cantona out of these commercials (I still laugh every time they flash to him on the plane even though I know it’s coming), you can’t keep Brazil from playing “The Beautiful Game.” Enjoy!

2. Gatorade: The Road

A little bit of jingoism on my part sees this one climb up to number two. But I could not possibly overstress the “us-against-the-world” mentality of a US soccer player encapsulated beautifully by this Gatorade spot. In simple prejudgment: The world hates Americans, and Americans hate soccer. As an American soccer player, this leaves me nothing. The emptiness felt through a stripped down arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” drives home the point as well as any Clint Dempsey volley.

1. Nike: Take It To The Next Level

Surely you’ve seen it. Now check out the three minute Director’s Cut. This story of a small club hero going big-time is shot in first-person and is unlike anything I’ve seen before or since. Could that be me? You? The rest is too cool for words.

Honorable Mention to Pepsi who had a few in the mix including: little ManU fan unplugs Real Madrid’s soda machine, and Mean Joe Green parody featuring Becks interacting with a little (unbeknownst to us) Juve fan. Also, who could forget the Nike Freestyle ad? Nike’s JogaTV had a good run and Adidas’ “Footballitis” was good for a laugh or six; alas, I could only pick five.

I hope you enjoyed my five and I beg you to point out any I missed or simply muffed… until then I am left to wonder how Master Lock has spent the bulk of its advertising money this year. Cheers!

Doug Beard is a contributing writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at dbeard2@ufl.edu.

Doug Beard