Feature

The top 10 British football-related ads of all time

As the 2014 World Cup nears, Campaign asked readers: what is the greatest British football-related ad of all time? It seems people's passion for the beautiful game even extends to advertising, as we were bombarded with votes - and even abuse - for leaving certain classics off the long list. Here are the ten ads that received the most votes from you:

The top 10 British football-related ads of all time

1 Carling love football 2004

Agency Leith London
Copywriter Pete Cain
Art director Louis Bogue
Director Kevin Thomas
Production company Thomas Thomas
We’ll come straight out and say it. When we put together the long list for this poll, we never imagined this spot would win. But win it has, with 20.25 per cent of the vote. Of course, Campaign’s scepticism should not be interpreted as a slight against the work. It’s a fine commercial – tongue-in-cheek – and Woo Hoo by The 5.6.7.8’s kicked ass before it got played to death in the wake of Kill Bill Volume. 1. Also, watching a fat guy with his shirt off get clattered by a woman in a suit never gets old.

2 Nike write the future 2010

Agency Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Creatives Stuart Harkness, Freddie Powell
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu
Production companies Independent/Anonymous Content
We could have filled this poll with nothing but Nike ads and it still would have been a solid list. But we limited it to the brand’s highlights and "write the future" came top, with 17.9 per cent of the vote. The spot practically bullied its way into the public’s conscience through its sheer grandeur, but that’s not to take away from the narrative. Indeed, it speaks volumes that this is one of the few sporting spots to make an impact without the aid of a top soundtrack. Speaking about the shoot, the creative Freddie Powell said: "Every 3am call brought a new day and, with it, the chance to develop a Simpsons character, sing Happy Birthday to Didier Drogba and eat lasagne out of a Styrofoam cup with one of Hollywood’s finest directors."

3 Nike airport 1998

Agency Wieden & Kennedy
Creatives John Boiler, Glenn Cole
Director John Woo
Nike’s seminal "airport" ad, released ahead of the 1998 World Cup, isn’t just a great football ad – it’s the benchmark by which other football ads are measured. It may have been bettered, but no other ad has made as big a leap in terms of what came before it. To this day, other brands and people still spoof the ad. Most recently, it was a plant-hire company called Hewden, making national headlines in the process. Of course, this kind of success can be a curse as well as a joy, and Nike is going to have to get used to seeing Tweets such as the one from @BenBrosnan – "The New @Nike World Cup Ad is very good but nothing will ever be as good as the Brazil Airport Ad" – whenever a new campaign is released. "Airport" is third in Campaign’s poll, scoring 13.76 per cent.

4 John Smith’s ball skills 2002

Agency TBWA\London
Creative Paul Silburn
Director Daniel Kleinman
Production company Spectre
"Ball skills" was a phenomenon. Shortly after its release, you could gather any group of lads for a kick-about and it was a matter of when, not if, some joker imitated Peter Kay’s overzealous hoof and catchphrase. According to Paul Silburn, the line was unscripted: "Peter said ‘’ave it’ after I told him to say whatever came into his head." The spot earned 10.18 per cent of the vote.

5 Carlsberg old lions 2006

Agency Saatchi & Saatchi
Creatives Richard Denney, Dave Henderson
Director Chris Palmer
Production company Gorgeous
Carlsberg’s "old lions" spot earned its place in midfield with 7.49 per cent of the vote. One of the creatives, Dave Henderson, told Campaign that the non-legends team had no idea who they were facing. "We sent them out first so we could capture their reactions when the Charltons, Chris Waddle, Brian Robson and Stuart Pearce ran out."

6 National Dairy Council Accrington Stanley 1989

Agency BMP DDB Needham
Copywriter Patrick Collister
Art director Peter Harold
Director Simon Cheek
This classic spot for milk was nearly so different. The copywriter Patrick Collister originally wanted Everton to be the butt of the joke, as Liverpool’s Ian Rush is mentioned in the ad. But Everton said no, and BMP could only get permission from Accrington Stanley. The club initially hated the spot, but now embraces it as part of its heritage and sells milk-themed memorabilia. The ad earned 6.04 per cent of the vote.

7 Adidas Jose+10 2006

Agency 180 Amsterdam
Creatives Richard Bullock, Andy Fackrell, Lee Hempstock, Chris Landy
Director Ivan Zacharias
Production company Stink
Despite sponsoring the most famous man in football (David Beckham) for the duration of his career, Adidas’ advertising was always second to Nike’s in scale and wit. This spot, which came seventh with 5.26 per cent of the vote, proved Adidas could match Nike on charm, however. All the big names in football are there, but the concept and twee soundtrack (Jim Noir’s Eanie Meany) make it less intense.

8 Barclays thank you 2013

Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creatives Ric Hooley, Vix Jagger
Director Benito Montorio
Production company Blink
Barclays’ campaign thanking fans for their support did well to make the top ten. Despite not featuring any players, it saw off competition from Coca-Cola ("blind fan") and a Pepsi spot featuring David Beckham, earning 3.69 per cent of the vote thanks to the venerable Everton fan Billy Ingham.

9 Nike parklife 1996

Agency TBWA Simons Palmer
Copywriter Tony Malcolm
Art director Guy Moore
Director Jonathan Glazer
Production company Academy Commercials
It was a mistake to initially omit Nike’s "parklife" spot from the long list. Dear readers, you made that clear. "Morons to miss it out," one said. Despite its handicap, the Hackney Marshes Sunday league spot still made the top ten, receiving 3.13 per cent of the vote.

10 Kronenbourg 1664 farmers of Alsace 2013

Agency Ogilvy & Mather
Copywriter Paul Mason
Art director Mark Harrison
Director Ivan Zacharias
Production company Stink
Eric Cantona is a rare thing – a footballer with presence, making him a staple of Nike’s ads. But he was really given a chance to show off his acting skills for Kronenbourg in 2013. He was helped by a solid idea, having hops farmers celebrated like superstars.

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