This summer's World Cup has thrown up some interesting adverts so far. Those of us who are of a certain age have gathered an entire back catalogue to refer to over the years and as time rolls on it becomes easier and easier to spot the duds. You know the ones I am talking about. There is a big difference between a last-ditch leap for the bandwagon and taking all of the elements of a World Cup and using them to your business or brand’s advantage. It helps if your product or service is relevant first of all, but it certainly isn't essential. You would expect Nike and adidas to produce some real quality in this area – after all it is their raison d'être - however with the right mix of creativity, wit and craftsmanship ANYONE can make a World Cup advert which strengthens their brand and engages with consumers.
Speaking of Nike and adidas, both have been on top form with regards to World Cup-themed content so far. Nike's 'Risk Everything' came out of the blocks both strong and fast by doing what they do best. Ask any football fan for their Top 3 football adverts of all time and I guarantee you that the 'Nike at the Airport' will always be in there. Such a simple yet elegant piece of advertising, it has everything. Humour, style, excitement, but above all it is a beautiful bit of choreography.
'Risk Everything' played to their strengths - big names, action-packed sequences and a hint of cheekiness - all to wonderful effect. "All in or Nothing" by adidas does something very similar but they forego the cheekiness in favour of a more dramatic tone. What both do very well is to Spectacle (I feel it deserves the capital letter).
So the scene is set. Most of the big players have shown their opening hands and, for the most part, we have been suitably impressed. Then along comes Beats by Dre with 'The Game Before The Game' and we find ourselves left breathless in the wake of a Don Draper-esque piece of mastery.
Where the big guns have concentrated on epic proportions, Beats by Dre has swept the feet from under them by crafting a story which instead focuses on the shared and emotional experience of both fans and participants.
This story focuses on preparation and the pre-game rituals. Seeing the famous footballers go through their own special observances at the same time as the fans is a very simple, but very powerful concept. The lighting of a candle. The congregation of family and friends. The face paint and the favourite armchairs and the lucky shoes - all forms of individual preparation which come together to make what is an incredibly unique, and special, collective experience.
'The Game Before The Game' is not just a great piece of advertising, it is an outstanding piece of storytelling. It manages to capture both the hysteria and heightened sense of anticipation which starts to bubble and broil amongst the collective before an event such as this, whilst at the same time making a story which is more personal and more emotional than that of its peers.
There is something far more substantial about this advert to any seen recently, mainly due to the fact that it is doing more than a couple of things well, it is doing a lot of things perfectly. It is dramatic and compelling. It is sexy and joyful. It is inspiring and manages to execute 'epic' in a measured and assured manner. The only thing missing is the humorous element.
The copywriters need to be applauded as much as anyone attached to this particular project. Both the way in which they have approached this project, and the message itself which runs through this story holds some valuable lessons in effective communication:
"Run like it is the last day of your life"
"Run like you're a crazy man chasing happiness"
"Run for your family and for your friends"
"Today be happy. Enjoy football."
"But there is one more thing...it's important you don't hold back!"
There you have it. Preparation, passion and not being afraid to take risks – three things which are critical to business and individuals alike. All communicated in a great piece of storytelling.