The ten best football ads

by Neil Sherwin

Rooney AdWhen it comes to making football advertisments for television, one company in particular is by far and away the best in business and it’s no surprise to see them feature so heavily in this top ten.

The likes of Pepsi, Budweiser, Adidas and Carlsberg have tried to keep up but, bar the odd exception, don’t even come close to matching the efforts of Nike.

Here’s my ten favourites, feel free to leave your own in the comments section below.

Warning: Article contains a LOT of Eric Cantona.

10. Barcelona / Qatar, 2013

Barcelona are at least everyone’s second favourite club right? Well, probably not but according to their sponsor Qatar Airways, Barca are “a team that unites the world”.

In a new television ad, the two have teamed up for a typically feel good affair that features Lionel Messi in dance class, Gary Lineker driving a taxi and Pique checking passports.

The highlight arrives at 0:59 where club captain Carles Puyol saves two unsuspecting members of the public from a falling flower pot with a text book header. Fantastic.

9. John Smith’s No Nonsense

English comedian Peter Kay takes centre stage for this simple but effective effort.

The setting is a typically miserable and muddy pitch with a few lads keeping the ball off the deck before it’s passed to Kay…

…”‘Ave it”

8. Carlsberg Ireland managers, 2008

Giovanni Trapattoni may have exited his post as Irish manager this week, but back in 2008 his arrival had made a few of his predecessors concerned about all the big jobs being taken by Italians.

Jack Charlton, Mick McCarthy and John Giles brainstorm in ‘Gaffer Falls’ and come up with the genius theory that, if all the Italians are in Ireland, then there must be a few gigs going over there.

Well in lads.

7. Nike Game Around the World, 1994

This ad follows a football as it gets pinged from country to country, starting off with Eric Cantona in Paris. Useless information – the defender he beats easily is Manchester City’s Richard Edghill.

A Paolo Maldini header from Milan drops nicely for Ian Wright in London and his scissors kick goes right across the Atlantic Ocean to Tab Ramos. Romario and Bebeto unsurprisingly link up well before the ever colourful Jorge Campos rounds things off with a save.

This is the first football ad I remember and probably makes it so high for sentimental reasons for which I don’t apologise.

6. Nike Write the Future, 2010

Write the Future was Nike’s attempt to show the fine lines between success and failure in football.

Fabio Cannavaro makes a crucial goal line clearance and is then shown being showered with gifts for his efforts, while Wayne Rooney goes from zero to hero after a recovering tackle on Franck Ribery.

In fairness, the depiction of an overweight and bearded Rooney living in a caravan is still a possibility at some stage.

The ad also features the silky skills of Ronaldinho who didn’t end up making it to the finals after being overlooked for selection.

5. Adidas Jose+ 10, 2006

Two kids go head to head on a dusty pitch and alternate picks to create their superstar filled teams.

First out is Djibril Cisse, a rather bizarre opening pick considering the wealth of talent that seemed to be on offer. Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme, Kaka and Oliver Kahn amongst many, many others are also given call ups.

The coolest part of the whole thing is probably having heyday versions of Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini show up.

As is usually the case with pick up games, keepers are at a premium so Jermaine Defoe is given the gloves and pulls off a few saves.

Damien Duff makes an appearance off the bench.

4. Nike Secret Tournament, 2002

Three-a-side football doesn’t get any greater than this with some of the world’s best players battling it out in a knockout, first goal is the winner tournament.

This ad gave a new lease of life to the song “A Little Less Conversation” as Eric Cantona was again involved, playing the role of ringmaster.

The final came down to a clash between Thierry Henry/Francesco Totti/Hidetoshi Nakata and Luis Figo/Roberto Carlos/Ronaldo. See for yourself who took were the last men standing.

3. Nike Good vs Evil, 1996

A dark warrior has come to earth to destroy the beautiful game and only a crack team of the world’s best players can save it.

There’s some serious old school kits on show in this one and Paolo Maldini is looking immaculate as he utters an innocent “Maybe they’re friendly” before it all kicks off.

The final scene of the ad where Eric Cantona takes out the keeper led to kids across the world pausing, popping their collar and saying “Au revoir” whenever the opportunity arose down the local park.

2. Nike Park Life, 1997

“Football, football, football. We get nothing but football morning, noon and night.”

Eric Cantona, David Seaman, Robbie Fowler and Ian Wright doing their thing as part of run of the mill teams down at Hackney Marshes? Quality!

The soundtrack couldn’t be more fitting with Blur’s Parklife creating the perfect mood for the ad which features as many Sunday league stereotypes as possible in 60 seconds.

1. Nike Brazil Airport, 1998

Hands down the best football ad of all time.

The 1998 Brazil side may have lost the World Cup Final to hosts France but there’s a certain romanticism attached to some of those players which will never be lost.

Set in an airport, what else can you do when your flight is delayed other than take out a football and run amuck?

Roberto Carlos, Juninho, Romario, Denilson and Leonardo are all involved as they evade security staff and other obstacles in the name of having a kick about.

Ronaldo hitting the pole right at the end is, in hindsight, a rather fitting metaphor for what was to come in career.

I challenge you to watch this video, take in the music and not smile.

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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