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Marketing & the World Cup: 5 Campaigns Proving They're a Match Made in Heaven

Marketing & the World Cup: 5 Campaigns Proving They're a Match Made in Heaven Blog Feature

June 23rd, 2018 min read

You know what - I’ll admit it, here and now. *Deep breath*

I’m one of those people… Yes, one of those advertising-loving nut jobs who refuses to go to Super Bowl parties so that I can sit in silence and actually watch the commercials.

Don’t get me wrong, the sports ball and I are acquaintances but it’s just that, like any great marketer, I’ve fallen head over heels for ads.

There’s just something about being able to pack so much emotion into one 60-ish second clip that then gets seen by millions. It puts me in awe. 
Think about it:

There are commercials that pull you in and immediately put you on the heroes side, like the Volkswagen’s 2012 commercial featuring a mini Darth Vader.

There are commercials that bring on a smile, like when Alexa lost her voice:



Or those that put things into perspective for us, like my all-time-favorite commercial where Toyota Japan celebrated fatherhood:



But I digress because we’ve got some brand (pun intended) spanking new ads around one of the most talked about sporting events on television right now - The World Cup.

For advertisers, showing a commercial during The World Cup is a huge opportunity to get eyeballs on your brand. In fact, the 2014 FIFA World Cup reached 3.2 billion viewers and one billion watched the final.

Which is why it makes sense that it costs a lot to advertise during the game.

Variety uncovered that in 2013, the average cost of a 30-second ad during the 2010 World Cup Final was $389,000.

However, if you’ve got the budget, it makes sense to spend it on this game with the opportunity to have a billion people not only seeing your product but, if you’ve pulled off a great commercial, talking about it in blog posts…

1. Messi & Luis Suárez: Everything Changes

I’m coming out strong with this one right off the bat because it’s one of my favorites so far:



Aside from this being just a delightful, relatable commercial (who hasn’t had a little friend or sibling rivalry?), it’s so on brand that it almost hurts.

Gatorade has found an incredible way to bring the spirit of competition that comes with the World Cup alive in this commercial.

As the viewer, you find yourself smiling when Luis sells his Messi jersey online or when Messi let’s his dog “do its business” on Luis’s lawn.

You find yourself itching to know how it ends and, again if you’re nutjob like I am, you get this little ball of excitement in your stomach when you see them in the arena, ready to go and you think, “Gosh dang it, Gatorade has done it again.”

They’ve always been about sport, competition, and striving to be the best person you can be, so it makes complete sense that they’ve come up with an over 2-min clip bringing us into the action and letting us get a glimpse into how these players are going to bring that tagline to life.

This alignment with The World Cup just makes sense.

Aside from the competitive aspect, Gatorade goes above and beyond recognizing the nations top high school athletes with their Gatorade Player of the Year program - including soccer players. It’s a natural fit!

2. Root for Your Roots - 23andMe

Even though I just sang Gatorade’s praises, I’m going to also say that it’s fairly easy for sports-based brands to chime into the conversation. 

What’s not as easy industry to do the same with ? DNA testing.

But 23andMe tried it anyway:


Here’s the thing, though, I think it works well; Really well actually.


23andMe did a good job of making The World Cup conversation work for them versus just butting into the conversation and hoping for the best.

Personally, I watched this commercial and thought, “Oh! That’s so fun!” because it makes us (or me) stop and realize that I may have some distance cousins who are watching/celebrating in ways much different than I’m doing (cough cough watching alone in my room so I can study commercials cough cough) - but we’re still connected through our roots.

Like DNA, the World Cup is connecting people all around the globe; clever, 23andMe!

3. McDonald's Brazil

Okay, so do I think McDonald's Brazil brought the greatest campaign to the field? Nah.

Do I think they made The World Cup work for them instead of just inserting themselves into the conversation? Nope.

Do I think that they honed in on something that’s extremely important for any marketing campaign to succeed? Heck yes I do.

The company held a contest for kids in which 11 winners were selected to attend Brazil’s match versus Costa Rica.

In addition, the restaurant featured sandwiches celebrating World Cup-winning countries since 2002 along with discount coupons and free products.

McDonald’s Brazil did something different than the other companies I’m calling out today - They focused on their fans and what the World Cup means to them.

“We don’t have good memories from the last World Cup,” Roberto Gnypek, VP of Marketing at McDonald’s Brazil, said reflecting on their loss to Germany in 2014.  

“Despite the economic environment and political issues in our country, I believe we’ll be very excited in the next few days. It’s very, very important to prepare a couple of months before the World Cup and create an emotional connection with customers.

Sure, they updated their menu to honor World Cup-winning countries but what I love here is that McDonald’s Brazil simply wanted their fans to know that they know how much event means a lot to them; that they understand them.

This connection is what turns mere consumers into advocates that scream their love for your product from the rooftops -- or the stands.

So, even if this year doesn’t end in Brazil winning the game, I think it’s a pretty big win that this company played a role in creating lasting memories for the families and kids that were able to attend.

4. The FIFA World Cup Is Here - Bud Light

If there’s one thing I’m more ashamed of than eating Doritos alone while watching The Super Bowl, it’s the fact that I think I’m one of only a handful of people who cannot stand the whole “Dilly Dilly” thing. 

I don’t get it. I don’t like it. And I would like to refuse to acknowledge it except I can’t because dang it, I give credit where credit is due.

Bud Light did it again and brought this phrase back into our lives with their latest ad:




Oracle Susana lets the king know that something big is coming.

The world loses its mind every four years, people are getting emotional and throwing themselves into the experience of The World Cup, and how you simply need to have enough Bud Light in the fridge to satisfy them.

Plus, they’re a sponsor of The World Cup so…

While I’m not a fan of this “Dilly Dilly” nonsense, I am a fan of a good call back.

“Dilly Dilly” isn’t Bud Light’s tagline or anything like that, but it is a phrase that consumers can use again and agains.

To me, this felt like they were just inserting themselves into the conversation because they wanted to say “Dilly Dilly” again but hey, it’s interesting regardless.

It’s almost as if it’s a war cry for Bud Light fans. But… *scratches head* this feels a bit like deja vu to me… Oh right!

This isn’t the first time that Anheuser Busch has created a little catch phrase that has taken the world by storm. Anyone else remember those frogs?




And that, my friend, is some great publicity.

5. Jump on the Wagen - Volkswagen

We may not have gotten a chance to compete in this sports ball game but Volkswagen is letting us know that we’re not forgotten.

In fact, far from it.

In this ad,  Americans are being recruited by other countries to cheer for their teams and, like an ex-boyfriend who realized that I’m delightful (just like this commercial) I’m being fought over and recruited. And I like that.

Volkswagen has taken a fun, lighthearted approach to their The World Cup ad.

Unlike some of the other brands out there who have taken the competitive route, this is like a breath of fresh air and it feels very on-brand to me.

Sure, not every Volkswagen car is fun like the Beetle (come on - there’s a flower vase on the dash) but the brand knows how to be quirky and have a good time.

For the people out there who like sports but don’t get crazy competitive over it, this commercial is for us.

Games can be fun, but we aren’t going to relate to those who think “MY TEAM BETTER WIN OR I’M TRASHING THESE SO-CALLED LUCKY SOCKS.”

It also does a great job of making American viewers still feel important and like they belong despite not still competing.


This is just the beginning of The World Cup ads that we’re going to see but dang, we’re off to a good start.

What I’m seeing already is that brands are being smart this year - they’re finding their unique ways to make the game and the situation fit their brands.

They aren’t stretching or forcefully nudging their way into the conversation just to be heard and, if you ask me, that’s the way it should be.

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