Qatar 2022: Top five ads from past World Cups

M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment’s global chief executive Steve Martin picks his favourite World Cup spots.

Is Nike’s 2010 ad ‘Write the Future’ the best World Cup spot ever?

M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment’s global chief executive, Steve Martin, has worked on every Fifa World Cup since USA 1994, when he helped launch Adidas’ Predator boot. Below is his selection of the best World Cup ads…

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1. Nike “Write the future” (2010)

To me, this is the most iconic of all World Cup ads, because the storytelling and cinematography at its heart were truly innovative for its time. Showcasing some of the world’s best players, it told the story of a future in jeopardy if these players failed to perform on the ultimate stage of the World Cup.

2. Carlsberg “Old lions” (2006)

A good old-fashioned ad, “Old lions” pulled on the heartstrings through the nostalgia of ex-England heroes, reinforcing the “Probably the best” brand positioning in a truly emotional way for football fans. The feat to bring these ex-legends together to make the TV spot is almost as impressive as the spot itself.

3. Nike “Airport” (1998)

When this spot launched, it was seen as groundbreaking. It managed to extract the flair of the legendary Brazilian team on the pitch and inject this spirit into the mundanity of an everyday scenario of an airport. It wasn’t just a 30-second-spot, the music was used brilliantly and transcended the spot. Pure entertainment.

4. Adidas “Predator Accelerator” (1998)

Playing its part in a series of films shot in black and white, this spot was created to launch the latest generation of the brand’s record-breaking Adidas Predator football boot in the lead-up to the 1998 France World Cup. The grittiness of a black-and-white visual captured exactly where Adidas was at the time.

5. Beats “The game before the game” (2014)

Beats was not an official sponsor of the World Cup but managed to steal the show with this long-form film. The spot brought to life players’ preparations before they faced the immense pressure of the biggest games of their lives. This was the ultimate ambush film, playing into the digital evolution that was taking place before our eyes.

A version of this article first appeared on Campaign UK.