World Cup Official Sponsors Ad Scorecard

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Brandchannel has rated brands’ ambush marketing campaigns to tap into World Cup fever. Now, it’s time to look at marketing efforts from FIFA’s 2010 brand partners.

When it comes to official sponsors, FIFA is being more selective this year. This World Cup claims just six top-level brand partners, a steep drop from 15 in 2006.

The total value of its 2010 sponsorships reportedly tops $1.2 billion, with brands like Adidas and Visa forking over $350 million each and Sony ponying up $305 million for the honor. Meanwhile, Coca Cola says this is the brand’s largest campaign ever.

This goal of this World Cup’s crop of commercials? Outdo the 2006 Adidas ad, a true fan favorite. It captured the World Cup spirit, star power, humor, and futbol skills. It was everything a World Cup ad should be.

Here’s how this year’s ads from FIFA’s official brand partners stack up, graded from 1-10:

ADIDAS: Star Wars – Adidas has the daunting challenge of outdoing its prior “Legends” ad, a hit at the 2006 Cup. Not only was it a fan favorite, it was measurably successful; Adidas saw a sales increase of 30% during the 2006 event. Its entry this cycle? A mash-up of the iconic Star Wars cantina scene and modern pop culture (with cameos including British soccer god David Beckham) is generating huge buzz. But after the neat-o stunt nature of the spot wears off, it’s apparent that it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.[more]

For starters, Star Wars fanatics will spot continuity errors, such as: Han Solo is there, so why is David Beckham channeling him? And Obi Wan is shown, along with Snoop Dog wielding the character’s lightsaber. Then there is the question of the through-line of the commercial. There is none. It appears the producers were so giddy at embedding celebs like the Gallagher brothers, Daft Punk and Snoop into such a famous cinematic scene, that any cohesive storyline or message is abandoned. Putting a soccer game on the screen in the background so that the ad ties into the World Cup feels like an afterthought.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 1
Branding Grade: 3

COCA-COLA: History of Celebration – Coke goes the history lesson route, tying the brand to the deep traditions of goal celebrations. It’s simple and communicates that Coke’s core brand value is fun. It’s compelling to watch the first time; but will it be equally fun the 300th time? 
World Cup-ocity Grade: 6
Branding Grade: 6

VISA: Life Flows Better with Visa – A perfectly energetic spot that tells a story. It’s engaging from beginning to end, and in the middle ties in the brand and the games. Note to advertisers: Commercials featuring people running are almost always gripping. And don’t miss Visa’s FIFA 2010 “Goal!” campaign on YouTube.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 8.5
Branding Grade: 7

HYUNDAI: Feel the Game – Hyundai’s contribution gets the chanting and global engagement right but nonetheless comes across as antiseptic. It’s as if the whole thing was patched together with leftover B-roll footage from other brands’ better commercials.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 5
Branding Grade: 2

SONY: Imagine reliving the greatest games – Sony provides several different entries, including a humorous retail-specific ad and a broader “Feel What They Feel” brand messaging bit. But both pale in comparison to the unexpectedly moving spot featuring children (above). While the Sony brand isn’t explicitly tied into the theme, the ad perfectly captures the true fun of the sport and takes you back to when you dreamed you might someday yourself play in the Cup. Of FIFA’s top-line brand partners, Sony scores with a tear-jerker.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 9
Branding Grade: 7

CASTROL: Liquid Engineering – Castrol is faced with the challenge of making motor oil exciting and sexy – an especially tough sell given what’s going on in the Gulf. All things considered, the brand’s simple, no nonsense ad is thematically in line with the World Cup as a global event.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 7.5
Branding Grade: 7

MCDONALD’S: Just Passing By – Extending on last year’s “Favourites” World Cup spot in the U.K., this year’s spot shows everyday World Cup fans. Not an award-winner, but nicely produced all the same.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 7
Branding Grade: 6

BUDWEISER: Kick – In 2006 Budweiser experienced the unfortunate insult of being boycotted by the host country’s fans. So what has the brand done for 2010? Girls! Frat boy humor! Oh Bud, please never change. By July you will come to loathe this ad.
World Cup-ocity Grade: 7
Branding Grade: 4

NOT SHOWN: Continental Tyresspot, which touts its 2010 competition to find Britain’s biggest football fan; BP, a FIFA 2010 sponsor at the national (South Africa) level, with BP Africa producing a trio of award-winning World Cup spots; MTN, which produced a spot with rival fans; FNB, whose FIFA spot features a trio of footballers riffing on Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.” Take a look and let us know what you think.

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