Apologies for the delayed start on the World Cup posts - it was an usually busy weekend and at 1.30 EDT I've just shipped off a super exciting project plan to my various peers and minions. Which they will ignore.
So: to the easiest part of the World Cup to preview: the commercials.
The challenge here is to show ones that actually make some sense here in the US, so I'll start with three that I also happen to think are really good for the spirit of the event, from mythology to commercialism...
ESPN Does The Liberation Angle
If you've read Playing the Enemy, the book about the 1995 Rugby World Cup upon which the film Invictus was based, then you already know that sport in South Africa was inherently political in the Apartheid era, to an extent that almost seems improbable. With that in mind, it's hard (for me anyway) not to be moved by ESPN's admittedly manipulative commercial on the subject:
FIFA World Cup on ESPN - Robben Island (via ESPN)
PUMA Goes For a Little African Spirit
Instead of the naked appeal to people's sense of "hurrah for the end of apartheid," PUMA takes an American band's song and images that I should probably find offensively stereotypical to create a really cool vibe about how Africans might actually, you know, be excited about the World Cup actually being close(r) to home:
PUMA - Journey of Football (EXCLUSIVE ONLINE VERSION) (via puma)
The hell with it, if Nike could make those Joga Bonito ads despite the progressively more defensive nature of Brazilian teams, where's the harm in this?
Nike Stays Focused on the Benjamins
And now we return to grubby commerce. Nike pays an enormous amount of sponsorship money to various players, and so they used them to make what is actually a rather nice piece of commercial film: an "in the game" view into players' heads about the consequences of their successes and failures as they are playing. The entire sequence on Wayne Rooney alone would make the commercial, never mind the "fail" of Ronaldinho making the cut for the commercial but not the Brazilian team.
I haven't been able to confirm if the commercial's director simply borrowed the statue of Cristiano Ronaldo from the player himself, but it wouldn't be the biggest surprise ever...
NIKE FOOTBALL WRITE THE FUTURE - FULL LENGTH VERSION (via nikefootball)
Pepsi Spends Money, Obtains Crap Commercial
Whereas I might have engaged in a millisecond's worth of hand-wringing about being a patronizing post-imperialist when it came to the PUMA advert, it took me the length of this commercial to decide it's crap. "Oh look at the wily and funny Africans! and Leo Messi, isn't he short!" Get stuffed, Pepsi.
Pepsi - Fifa World Cup 2010 advert (via nzheraldtv)
English Ads That Don't Make a Lot of Sense Here, But Which I Felt Compelled to Include
Carlsberg, purveyor of lager that gets you drunk (TM), apparently decided that the best way to go would be a 90 second pep talk to the English national side, shot against none of the actual players running the gauntlet of various sporting heroes (including darts player Phil "The Power" Taylor... seriously) en route to providing a good thrashing to Johnny Foreigner. They lost me at the part where they invoked the recently deceased Sir Bobby Robson, a former England manager, one of the few English managers to actually succeed outside the UK, and a genuinely nice guy to boot. For shame, Carlsberg, dragging in someone who couldn't even choose to sell out in order to tout your pish.
Carlsberg Team Talk TV Ad (via EnglandTeamTalk)
The only reason I'm including this commercial for Mars Bars with former England player John Barnes is because most people find it comical when English people rap, and because the wrapper in the style of the English flag wasn't entirely popular in all parts of the UK.
2010 Mars World Cup Advert (via BboyFiZiX)
A Commercial Included Because His Stint at Everton Forced Me to Reassess My Opinions
Enough bile. For what it's worth, this SportsCenter promo is mildly amusing, and now that I am letting go of years of mocking Landon Donovan, it's possible to post this without further (snide) comment:
Landon Donovan - This is SportsCenter (via ESPN)
If you've seen any commercials that you think merit inclusion, drop a link in the comments.