World Cup ads capture YouTube attention

ROSE POWELL
Last updated 11:49 11/06/2014
Neymar
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STAR POWER: Brazil superstar Neymar features in a number of World Cup ads.

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While the World Cup is still a couple of days away, the advertising match has already kicked off with expensive and epic ads vying for attention.

Nike has released two World Cup advertisements and both of them are more than four minutes long, making them epics in advertising standards.

But it is not the clip with football stars playing in the park that has caught everyone's attention, it is a five-and-a-half minute animated film that views like a Pixar version of an Avengers movie.

The Last Game features cartoon versions of star football players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in a match against a team of clones engineered to eradicate the spectre of mistakes and lost matches.

With a punchy refrain of "there's no greater danger than playing it safe", and hints of more clips to come, the video has already racked up more than 2 million views on YouTube.

Another advertisement of epic proportions, by headphone company Beats, is five minutes long and features football star Neymar.

Clocking in with more than 7.5 million views on YouTube already, the star-studded clip also features a rich score and legions of fans from all over the world. And it's those fans that make the World Cup so enticing for big brands.

The managing director of sport and entertainment at advertising agency M&C Saatchi, Jaime Gilbert-Smith, told Fairfax Media the longer "ads" were symptomatic of the shift in focus in the advertising and sports industries from television to digital media.

"If you look back at the South African cup, a lot of people thought Nike was the official sponsor. They weren't, they were just quick to shift all of their spending into digital and reaped the benefits,"  Gilbert-Smith said.

He added it was a mistake to talk about "ads" on YouTube, when the best brands were focusing on story-telling.

For many, digital media still means big budget - more brands are creating longer clips to reach global audiences.

This is the first World Cup at which adidas has invested more in digital media than in television. Its clip has effectively tapped into the way most people experience soccer - as messy and with their mates.

David Beckham, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Zinedine Zidane play a spontaneous game inside a house, complete with plenty of smashed furniture.

At only a minute long, the shorter length may have made it more shareable than either Nike's or Beat's efforts - the adidas ad has been seen almost 12 million times on YouTube.

Also showing that shorter clips don't equate to less attention is the Emirates 2014 ad, which has been viewed more than 6.5 million times and also stars Cristiano Ronaldo, this time with football legend Pele.

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Having a football star feature in your ad seems to be the best way to reap success but Australian advertising executives said that while the star-focused approach was effective, it was getting old. 

BMF chief executive  Dominic Stinton agreed the ads were crafted for YouTube and said they were designed to look like "living gossip magazines" to drive shareability. 

Mr Stinton, whose clients include the Football Federation of Australia, said the emerging digital broadcast opportunities made the dearth of new ideas even more disappointing, as brands focused on maintaining market share rather than inspiring new audiences.

"It's a bit sad about how similar they all are. They're not reaching out, they're preaching to the converted,"  Stinton said.

 "Particularly in terms of the sexes, there's a huge audience of women who must be very excited about the games but they're absent in the ads." 

Car company Kia has produced a lascivious minute of Russian model Adriana Lima invading a garage man cave to evangelise about football and it has earned 150,000 views so far.  

But it's fast food chain McDonald's that proves the exception, with a woman actually playing football, albeit it in high heels and a little black dress.

While she's only one of five fans showing off their skills, the ad has been viewed almost 100,000 times.

With tens of millions of people expected to watch the World Cup games, the advertising executives agreed it's worth the investment if brands can navigate the increasingly fragmented media environment and make the most of social media.

"It's a massive sporting event, but it's also a massive social and cultural phenomenon, whether you're into sport or not. It's all anyone will talk about online or in person for the next month,"  Gilbert-Smith said.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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