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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Curse of the World Cup Advert

In the build up to the World Cup, Nike released an epic three minute commercial starring the most iconic wearers of the brand: Rooney, Ronaldo, Drogba, Cannavaro, Ribery and Ronaldinho. The advert was entitled ‘Write the Future’ with the central theme being that certain moments in a match can determine the destiny of oneself: the difference between success (characterised by having every newborn baby being named Wayne—terrible idea) and failure (living in a campervan—more accurate) is balanced on a knife-edge. 

Fast forward a few weeks and the fantasy advert has turned into a disastrous curse. Every player featured in the clip has left South Africa; Ronaldinho never even set foot in the country. Even guest star Roger Federer was dumped out of the Wimbledon Championships to perennial underachiever Tomas Berdych. As one journalist noted, the 2010 World Cup may end up being seen as a great advert for football, maybe even a great one for the host country. But it has not been a great advert for adverts. Didier Drogba suffered the misfortune of a broken arm before the Ivory Coast had even kicked a ball in anger. Franck Ribery was part of the disgraceful French side that mustered one goal, one point, and imploded with outrageous in-fighting. Cannavaro’s Italy were held by the All Whites and failed to progress to the second round.

While the multi-million dollar advertising campaign has been proven tremendously inaccurate, it has, in a way, achieved what it set out to do. People are talking about it, which advertising executive Dan Holliday says is part of the campaign. He notes that “It is about image and popularity, projection of character, as much as form on the pitch… with advertising you’re trying to engage people emotionally. That’s easier with someone who appears to have a strong character or backstory.”

So, with the finalists and winners still uncertain and the Nike poster boys on the plane home, let’s hope that we can still rely on the Germans to provide stability, efficiency, and value for money. Joachim Loew’s young side has taken the World by storm and surprise with a tantalising brand of slick, powerful football. Boasting a number of players recently graduated from the under-21 side, several of the team should be around to feature at Brazil 2014… and to write the future.


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