Close-Up: Who lifts advertising's World Cup?

Campaign chooses six of the best from the World Cup-related ads on TV screens in the build-up to the tournament and asks adland experts and an ordinary punter to decide on the winner.

DAMON COLLINS - executive creative director, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Nothing unites the planet like the World Cup. It's huge. On a grand scale.

So it goes without saying that something so gargantuan presents an equally colossal and quite mouthwatering opportunity for brands. To appeal to new audiences. To create brand advocacy. To flog stuff.

But when attaching a brand to this particular event, for once, size really does matter. Or more accurately, scale. Not just scale of execution, but scale of ambition, scale of idea.

One brand has understood this concept for years and has proved itself worthy of the title "Advertising World Champions 2010" with the most epic commercial ever to grace YouTube. Receiving 12 million hits in just two weeks, Wieden & Kennedy's extravaganza, built on a suitably enormous and typically Nike truth, was made with more cash and is stuffed with more celebs than many feature films. And it's paid off. It owns the World Cup. Without even having referenced it once.

Adidas, however, perhaps chasing sales after spending its millions on its official Fifa sponsorship, chose not to sell a dream, but to sell a boot. Villa and Messi drive cars and kick footballs. Somehow it feels small. "Lighter and faster"? Perhaps. "Cooler and sexier"? Nope.

Shoots like the one for Carlsberg don't come much larger. Rammed with venerable British former world champions in every sport (even darts), an appropriately stirring monologue raises the odd neck hair and inspires us to "join the immortals". Scale-wise, it's an autograph hunter's dream.

Everyone's here. Well, almost. Sadly, Terry Venables couldn't be there on the day. He was too busy in back-to-back filming for The Sun and Sony Bravia. His singing and acting in both of which, uncannily, managed "The Double", by successfully removing the viewer's desire to either watch the World Cup on TV or read about it in a newspaper.

Coca-Cola has historically offered up big inspiring ads worthy of the beautiful game. The latest attempt is a rather clunky collection of goal celebrations that inspires us less to Eat Football and Drink Football, more to just Sleep.

The Sun: 1
Adidas: 4
Coca-Cola: 2
Nike: 9
Carlsberg: 7
Sony: 1

ROONEY CARRUTHERS - founding partner, VCCP

Coca-Cola. It stars Roger Milla in 1990 celebrating. Then shows more celebrations from here to eternity. It's cheap, looks like a mood tape with an awful false voiceover, and lacks a pull on the heart strings. This is the biggest brand in the world sponsoring the biggest sports event in the world.

Coca-Cola needs to do some big creative and act like a brand, not a sponsor.

The Sun. If you think Roger Milla is old hat, wait until you see this one. El Tel - or Mr Venables to you, son - comes out singing! I thought it was a trailer for Stars In Their Eyes. This is a huge own goal for The Sun. Where are the white-van drivers, the hairy-arsed builders, the big-titted barmaids with their cross of St George? The Sun lives and breathes football.

This isn't a nation gripped by the game, this is a nation in love with Simon Cowell ...


Sony. Just as you thought you couldn't get enough of Mr Vegetables, he pops up with a turnip this time - Graham Taylor in an ad for Sony. This could be a better ad for The Sun. At least Kelly Brook is in it playing a nurse. Sony used to be beautiful, classy and groundbreaking. In this OAP's home, there's none of this.

It drags the brand kicking and screaming into the land of conformity, with a whiff of mothballs and disinfectant. "Nurse, the screens!"

Adidas. I've watched this ten times now and I still don't get it. "Fast vs fast" is the title. Zinedine Zidane bombs about in a retro car. Lionel Messi and David Villa do some great foot tricks and that is it. I'm lost for words. This is a star brief?

Nike. The only tick here is the "global" box. I love the Wayne Rooney stuff, it's very funny. The rest is history.

Carlsberg. At last! An ad to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. Especially the portrait of James Hunt and "let's do it for Bobby"! I saw this ad at the weekend and thought it was great then.

The World Cup is all and everything to every England fan. We believe in our heroes and put them on pedestals higher than Nelson's Column. We love emotion, we love our footballing past and, last of all, every football fan loves a pint. If only Carlsberg did penalty shoot-outs.

The Sun: 3
Adidas: 5
Coca-Cola: 2
Nike: 6
Carlsberg: 9
Sony: 4

RACHEL HATTON - planning director, Ogilvy Group UK

The Rainbow Nation is hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Here at Ogilvy, we're a rainbow nation all of our own. So this piece is brought to you by a representative selection of the qualifying nations (well, and Scotland).

First, Coca-Cola. Open happiness, goal celebrations - definitely on brand, no question. As someone who's watched her six-year-old perfect his Arshavin "sh" over painstaking weeks and months, I'd have to agree. Shame that Crouchy didn't make the cut, though.

Sony's offering us £150 when we trade in our old TV. Fabio, our Argentinian/Italian, gets poignant: "Why would I want to see that depressing setting when the scope for exciting stuff is so broad and rich?" As Graham Taylor said: "Do I not like that."

Adidas has David Villa, Lionel Messi and some really fast cars to show off their new super-light boots. Hugh, our Scot, offers the cryptic: "Like a Glenn Hoddle team talk." Jaimes, the Kiwi, is more straightforward: "Bit poncy for me."

Carlsberg has made things tough on itself after 2006's fantastic "pub team" film. Hugh's verdict: "Like Argentina, all passion, but not quite on top of their game." Fabio says it's "exciting and fun. I'd like it even more if I was English." I'm not sure it quite does it for me, though I'd probably feel differently if it weren't for the gross omission of Theo Walcott from the squad.

And now to The Sun. Fabio has us rumbled: "It plays nicely on the English psyche of 'we can never win', by injecting a bit of maybe." Here's the Kiwi perspective: "Tough brief given the competition and their access to talent." Talent, Jaimes? We're talking about the Renaissance Man of English football here: singer, player, manager, businessman, boardgame inventor, loveable rogue and co-creator of the TV drama series Hazell. I think it's magic.

Finally, our pick of the bunch, the Nike campaign. "The storytelling and suspense-building is spot on," Fabio says. "Takes 'just do it' and makes it relevant to now," Jaimes says. I think it's a fresh take on the footballer as cultural icon. Hugh is the only one to strike a slightly sour note. But maybe that's because they'll never put a 60-foot statue of Darren Fletcher on Sauchiehall Street.

The Sun: 7
Adidas: 5
Coca-Cola: 6
Nike: 9
Carlsberg: 7
Sony: 3

JOHN FORD - barman and England fan

When a newspaper (The Sun) proclaims it has released the "greatest ad ever", you expect something truly jaw-dropping to greet you from your TV. But as they say, don't believe everything you read in the papers. Although Terry Venables, Ian Wright and Harry Redknapp are undoubtedly coupled with English football, watching Venables belt out Elvis made me feel uncomfortable.

"Retirement" for Sony sees Venables featured again. For Sony, it's a very simple ad. That's not such a bad thing, yet it doesn't "feel" like a Sony ad. The whole thing may be a little corny, but the message just about works and the lighthearted approach gets the thumbs up from me.

Next up, we have Coca-Cola. A bunch of what appear to be Sunday league footballers prance around carrying out a series of silly goal celebrations accompanied by an annoying soundtrack and an over-enthused crowd, themselves tackily celebrating for no apparent reason. There's no doubting this is a World Cup ad and the joyful approach no doubt lives up to the Coke philosophy, but I fail to fully understand the message that it wants me to take from it.

"Fast vs fast" is another classy, stylish and slick ad for Adidas. Ripped straight from the set of Sin City, the use of Lionel Messi, David Villa and Zinedine Zidane is enough to put any fan in the mood for the World Cup, and does nothing but assure Adidas' place as a total "football" brand.

The Carlsberg spot has got to be my favourite. Kasabian's music seems intrinsically linked with football and bringing in English heroes such as Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Ian Botham along with the poignant use of the late Sir Bobby Robson's picture was a stroke of genius as far as I'm concerned. The first-person perspective almost makes it feel as though the viewer is part of the team, which is perfect in terms of revving up your average fan for the World Cup.

Finally, another brilliant offering from Nike. No pointless dialogue, just fluid visual; it didn't feel so much an ad for a product, more a chance for Nike to release a featurette geared entirely towards helping football fans look forward to an epic tournament. Humorous, enthralling, entertaining and original. If it wasn't for Carlsberg's ad, it would be a clear winner.

The Sun: 3
Adidas: 8
Coca-Cola: 4
Nike: 9
Carlsberg: 9
Sony: 7


Agency: WCRS
Writer: Rich Littler
Art director: Zac Ellis

Agency: 180 Amsterdam
Writer: Peter Albores
Art director: Martin Terhart

Agency: Santo
Writers: Matias Ballada, Pablo Minces, Sebastian Wilhelm
Art director: Maximiliano Anselmo

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Writer: Stuart Harkness
Art director: Freddie Powell


Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Rob Potts
Art director: Andy Jex

Agency: HS&P
Writer: Owen Catto
Art director: Andy Barwood

FINAL SCORES (out of 40)
Nike: 33
Carlsberg: 32
Adidas: 22
Sony: 15
Coca-Cola: 14
The Sun: 14