National stereotypes still score for Euro 2016 brands

National stereotyping is alive and well in the campaigns of official Euro 2016 sponsors, with the English, French and Germans getting the caricature treatment by Mars, Carlsberg and Lufthansa respectively.

Carlsberg, the official beer sponsor, has released 'If Carlsberg did revolutions'
Carlsberg, the official beer sponsor, has released 'If Carlsberg did revolutions'

England sponsor Mars this week launched TV campaign "#Believe", created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, which depicts an army of England fans – including current players Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – swimming the English Channel and emerging on a French beach. The crowd of supporters, led by armour-clad knights on horseback, references almost 1,000 years of national tropes.

In Germany, Lufthansa, a sponsor of the German FA, has focused on the country’s rivalry with the English in "Everyone’s fanhansa", a film about an English fan who is forced to board a Lufthansa flight and has to endure a combination of brass instruments, lederhosen and cuckoo clocks. The ad is by Hamburg agency Kolle Rebbe.

Meanwhile, the tournament’s official beer sponsor, Carlsberg, has released "If Carlsberg did revolutions". The spot, by 72andSunny Amsterdam, sees the citizens of Paris, on discovering there are no tickets available, march on the Stade de France in the style of Les Miserables, demanding: "Liberté, égalité, footballité." Former French footballer and World Cup winner Marcel Desailly declares: "Let them drink beer!"

Ewan Paterson, founder and executive creative director at BBH Sport, argued that the tone of these campaigns was part and parcel of a football competition. He said: "Isn’t a competitive international tournament jingoistic by definition? And, on that note, being Scottish, I thought the Lufthansa ad was by far the best."

But Jim Shearer, brand director of Carling at Molson Coors, questioned whether it was an effective strategy, saying there were "lots of different and intelligent ways into the mindset around watching an international football tournament".

"The most well-trodden positioning [around a tournament] is to be the brand representative of fan support," Shearer added. "That’s quite a cluttered space for brands. We would try to take a more consumer insight-led approach into what we talk about." 

Carling is not an official sponsor but will be running its own football-themed campaign during Euro 2016.

Rob Sellers, managing director at Grey Shopper, said the "gold standard" for tournament campaigns was often set by Adidas and Nike. "Previously, both have gone down this path of passionate storytelling that often avoids jingoistic humour," he said. "Take Nike’s ‘Write the future’. There was national behaviour recognised in that but it wasn’t jingoism."

Tournament sponsors include Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Orange. Coke said it would put fans at the centre of its activity but it has yet to reveal its campaign, while Orange has signed up Zinedine Zidane to front its "Orange sponsors you" campaign.

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