Puma vs. Nike vs. Adidas: The World Cup Videos Compared

Is Nike’s new World Cup video the highest form of commercial art?

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Nike’s new ad, in keeping with that advertising tradition, is one of the highest-end pieces of commercial art you’ll see, considering the production from a bona fide filmmaker and the aggregate global appeal of all the multi-national stars on screen. Its airing will be an oddly tailored event of art, commerce and sport.

Or is it bloated, macho cliche in comparison to Puma’s own video?

Jennifer Doyle at From A Left Wing:

Contrast the above (and its soundtrack) with Nike’s bloated ad, which is seasoned with the most tired forms of machismo and sexism. Here there are even a few girls and women, presented not as sex objects or football failures, but as fans and players (asking the boys to give her the ball!). This ad, furthermore, is actually about African soccer.

Both videos are, obviously, impressive productions. And perhaps the biggest irony of all is that neither Nike nor Puma are official FIFA World Cup sponsors: you’ll notice if you watch both videos again that there is no mention of the World Cup itself. But we don’t need that: such is the global fever for the World Cup, we effortlessly read into these videos the event itself, without either company having to shell out millions to sponsor it (of course, they have both shelled out millions to sponsor the teams and players featured).

Indeed, Jim Edwards at BNET raises this as an interesting problem for the events themselves:

It’s yet more proof that marketers can “own” even the world’s biggest sporting event without paying a red cent in contract fees — if you’re clever enough.

This is a significant problem for sports sponsorship: NBC vastly overpaid to broadcast the Olympics and lost money when advertisers didn’t show up. Sure, the recession didn’t help. But it’s also to do with the fact that venues such as Youtube, where the Nike ad is already approaching 1 million views, offer massive audiences for zero money. Why bother paying for an official slot when an unofficial effort is so much more efficient?

Interestingly, one of Adidas’ World Cup videos — which is much more along the lines of Puma’s effort than Nike’s, but has received far less attention — also does not mention the event itself. And its relaxed insouciance, especially given the hype we cannot avoid elsewhere surrounding the event, might actually make it my favourite.

Update: A reader has made the important correction to me that the Adidas video above was actually made on spec by director Igor Martinovic, and is not an official Adidas video.  Shame, for Adidas, though I guess that’s some damn cheap good publicity they have….

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