Accept no substitutes - World Cup TV Commercials | Factor 3

Accept no substitutes

And so it has begun. There’s no hiding place from the predictable onslaught. No, not the World Cup coverage itself but the raft of TV commercials hijacking the beautiful game. No service or product considers itself immune from associating itself with events in Brazil.

You’d expect the sponsors, the Betfreds, convenience foods and sportswear manufacturers, to fill their literal and metaphorical boots.

It’s called ‘borrowed interest’ – as in companies ‘borrowing’ the interest of the consumers in a cause, event etc. as a basis for a tactical creative platform. In marketing terms, it’s a convenient but ultimately an easy creative option, with in this instance, wince-evoking pay-off lines invariably using football vernacular. A notable exception is the first rate Currys & PC World’s ‘football fibs’ campaign for its HD and Smart TVs.

In fairness, the technique is a tried and tested default formula available to agencies when they, or just as likely, the client, want to grab onto the shirttails of a transient opportunity that’s just too good to miss.

And my, what a rich seam of vocabulary agencies have at their disposal to pepper their creative offerings; teamwork, on the ball, performance, winning, on target, strike, kick-off, etc. etc. etc.

To add insult to injury, to front-up some of the ads, the ubiquity and popularity of the sport has also spawned a pool of footballing personalities – most with highly dubious acting skills. You need look no further than England goalkeeper Joe Hart and his performance for Head & Shoulders – bless.

When it comes to football, we Brits think of ourselves as a knowledgeable and refined bunch. The same applies to our appreciation of quality British advertising. We acknowledge the wit and craft at the centre of our favourite TV ads. But gratuitous and clunky references to our national sport, shoe-horned in to a 30 second slot will not endear the audience to the advertiser nor enhance its brand equity. Football’s more important than that and so are consumers. Studs and tackle anyone? Anyone?

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