Every four years, during the biggest football tournament, every major brand is trying to seize an opportunity to mesmerize us, the consumers, the fans, the enthusiasts, with their creative (or not so creative) campaigns, and not every brand accomplishes its goal. To get into the hearts of sport enthusiasts and passionate fans is not an easy task. To get to our TV screens is somewhat an easier thing to do. However, 3.2 billion people watched the last World Cup, so this one was (is) a marketers’ nightmare and a dream. So, who captured our attention this year?

Adidas have been experimenting in many ways this year with their All In or Nothing campaign, doing everything it can not to get consumed by Nike, and, according to Omnica Media Group, Adidas is the top sponsor that received almost 60 percent of mention (58 percent positive and 42 percent negative). Adidas is apparently doing something right after all, especially after they launched the campaign that upset Animal Rights Activists. To make up for it (perhaps), Adidas sent its world cup ball with six cameras to the journey around the world. Sending its brazuca to places like London, Munich and Madrid, they will release video episodes in the run-up to the games. Brazuca has its social media profile, so you can follow @brazuca for updates.

When it comes to ads, they launched a not so epic, but rather fun, commercial featuring two major retired players David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane titled House Match. The players are bored while watching Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura playing EA Sports’ 2014 FIFA World Cup video game. After “two old men” challenge the young, the fun part starts. It is, in a way, a relief, to see that football is in fact a game, and a fun one.

The commercial that got the most attention and praise, and the most shares on social networks is Messi’s nightmare, that is, The Dream. Whether it’s a bad dream or a good one, the spot does raise the question on how much one cares about soccer, for instance. It ends with an option, click “ALL IN” to see more scenes, and click “NOTHING” to say hello to landscapes and beat-up soccer balls.

For the latest move “Desafio Tuda ou Nada” (Challenge All or Nothing) Adidas is launching a microsite that shares daily trivia questions and gives prizes to sports fans. On 12th June, today, the fans will be able to log in to the website and answer five questions every day about Adidas and the World Cup. If you do not know the answer, there is  little help from Google. Adidas is also launching a YouTube web series called The Dugout that will broadcast live from the games. Will this be enough to steal back the attention from Nike?

Is this going to be enough to ignite the hearts of sports fans? Perhaps.

Nike prepared for the World Cup with their Risk Everything campaign. Although Nike isn’t a sponsor, it employed a lot of creativity in delivering football storytelling ads. With their first ad, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Brazil’s Neymar, Nike pointed out that the expectations are high, however, when you risk everything, you get the best results, and those risk-result relationships is seen throughout the campaign.

In April, Nike told us brighter and funnier story of football. In a four-minute ad, titled Winner Stays, we can see the spirit and style of the famous “Write the Future” campaign from 2010 (although this campaign was more glamorous). With stunning action shots, comic atmosphere, and passionate fans, Nike targeted many fans featuring major international players, and also celebs beyond the football world, Kobe Bryant, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Irina Shayk and even Incredible Hulk.

With this down to earth campaign, you have to love them, right?

Three days before the tournament, Nike released another ad, but animated one, telling the story of “The Last Game” between cloned versions of famous players and the real ones. The mad scientist made all the mess by creating clones, because, human versions take too many risks on the field and their chances for success are not measurable. Now, players need to play their last game to defend the game, the future of world football. It brings us a fresh and a funny short movie.

Samsung did an interesting ad with a futuristic team called the Galaxy 11. It is a team made of soccer stars, and the team is on a mission to save the world. How? With football. The ad called The Training has around 50 million views.

The best from McDonald’s came with the commercial Gol!, a two minute celebration of trick shots, amazing skills and crazy footwork. It was created to drive traffic to brands reality game, however, the ad largely shows unknown talents from around the world, and that’s what makes this ad brilliant. Although many believe that the ad is fake, brand assures the opposite.

Pepsi introduced their campaign Now Is What You Make It with a two-minute commercial that fuses the world of footballs and music. Although the ad included impressive stars such as Robin van Persie, David Luiz, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Agüero, Jack Wilshere and Lionel Messi, the atmospehre is perfectly blended with other interesting activities, and the music adds a special touch to it, especially Janelle Monae’s cover of David Bowie’s „Heroes“.


Finally, there is the Beats by Dre ad, a story of pregame rituals featuring Brazil’s Neymar Jr and many other stars with their pregame rituals. Although it resembles Nike style, the five-minute story tends to keep your attention whether due to the atmosphere or the story told by Neymar’s father (or music). Will I watch it again? No, it tends to keep my attention only one time, however, many seem to be very excited about it.

When it comes to other World Cup related commercials, two more commercials deserve mention.

The first one is branded with Bank of Chile, telling a supportive story by 33 miners who were trapped in a mine for 69 days. The accident happened in 2010 and the miners survived those 69 days underground. Although the road for the Chilean team is harder this year (they are in the “Group of Death” with Spain, Netherlands and Australia), their fans, that is miners, are supporting them sharing their experience and giving them a sensational encouraging talk.

“Spain is tough? Netherlands is tough? We don’t fear the Group of Death. We don’t care about death. We defeated death before!”

The Coca-Cola sport drink, Powerade, launched an add telling a story about Nico Calabaria, who was born with one leg, but his talent for soccer is truly amazing. Nico eventually became the youngest member of the U.S. national amputee soccer team.

A trend of emotional storytelling and stories is omnipresent in advertising today, however, if a story can inspire and make a sincere impact, than the trend is worthy of promoting.

Other brands showed some extraordinary stories and launched interesting and eye-catching ads (Citroen, Hyundai, ESPN), however, this world cup, the war between two major brands are getting all the attention.

So, who will win our hearts and minds, Adidas or Nike?

Nike is remembered for their great campaign from 2010, and thus, often associated with the tournament, even though they aren’t official sponsors. Adidas, on the other hand, delivered great and beautiful commercials, tackling with our emotions, passion and showing how remarkable the game of football is for many people. In addition, they engaged fans on different levels with microsite, trying to create a community of Adidas football fans.

The impact they made on the consumers is going to be more visible and measurable after the tournament. Who is going to be the winner, and who’s a loser? Fans do not care, all that fans want now is to watch the games, and the games are starting today.