World Cup ads put music’s reputation as the “universal language” to the test in a crowded field where the choice of the song can mean a win or lose for any brand.
This year’s World Cup sponsorship is up 40% from 2010, according to a study by McKinsey, with FIFA set take in $1.4 billion from those deals. With 30-second ad time for the tournament final on ESPN ads going for a reported $300,000, FIFA sponsors and unaffiliated companies that want to get into the game are betting on further exposure through YouTube, and creating promos that have viral value for international football fans.
Here we highlight ten songs from competitive 2014 World Cup spots.
10. Burl Ives, “Oh By Jingo”
Like Apple’s “Go you Chicken Fat Go” iPhone 5 ad, which has also aired during the World Cup, longtime FIFA sponsor McDonalds uses a nostalgic novelty song for its fitness-promoting spot. Mickey D’s “home movie” shows ordinary people playing around with soccer balls to the tune of (“Frosty the Snowman” animated Christmas special narrator) Burl Ives’ “Oh By Jingo.” It’s hokey, but fun.
9. Shakira, “La, La, La (Brazil 2014)”
Piqué’s team may be out, but Shakira's World Cup entry is emerging as a winner. The video for the “Brazil 2014” version of her single “Dare (La,La,La),” included on the official FIFA album, has more than 134 million views on YouTube. The song has been downloaded 69,609 times, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The surreal black and white video, which, as expected, features Piqué, Messi and co., as well as an elephant and Shakira and Piqué’s toddler son Milan, has been lauded as “inclusive.” It is sponsored by Activia in partnership with Unicef’s World Food Program.
8. King Khan & the Shrines, “Land of the Freak"
“All in or Nothing”
Adidas pulls out the props to make the most of the estimated $70 million it spends for FIFA sponsorship with this awesome all-star advert. While the spot is most notable for its fantasy house soccer game played by Beckham, Zizi and more, the accompanying track, “Land of the Freak” by Berlin rockers King Khan & the Shrines, is spot on.
7. Antonio Carlos y Jocáfi, “Quem Vem La”
“Dare to Be Brazilian”
Nike is not a FIFA sponsor, but the company goes head to head with Adidas on World Cup turf, providing many of the star players with boots and outfitting the Brazil team. Nike unveiled the home team kit in Brazil with this “Dare to Be Brazilian” spot, which has been viewed almost eight million times on YouTube. It features Neymar and other players, as well as Brazilian singing star Ivete Sangalo, and a remix of the groovy song “Quem Vem La” (“Who Goes There”) by Antonio Carlos y Jocafi.
The 1971 track by the Brazilian duo best known for writing “Voce Abusou,” which was famously covered by Celia Cruz, is an Afro-Brazilian soul classic.
6. Aloe Blacc and David Correy, “The World is Ours” global remix
Coca-Cola’s World Cup anthem campaign is the biggest music initiative around a sporting event in the company’s history. Thirty-two versions of Coke’s anthem “The World is Ours” have been released around the world, including Aloe Blacc and David Correy’s “Global Remix,” featured in the U.S. World Cup commercial. The track has hit the Top Ten in 40 countries, with an increase of over 120% in digital sales in the U.S. since the World Cup opener. Take out your handkerchiefs for this inspirational, international, and typically Coke, spot.
A video for the song, featuring Blacc and Correy, was released June 11.
5. The Dexters, “I’ll Never Find Another you”
“Do Us Proud”
This could be the winner of the most prominent use of a track in a World Cup-related ad so far. British newspaper The Sun leaves aside the lofty ideals of the typical World Cup ad in this “football karaoke” video. Follow the bouncing soccer ball and the lyrics imprinted on the players shirts to sing along with the East London band the Dexters’ “I’ll Never Find Another You.”.
4. Seu Jorge, “Festa Brasileira”
Fans in Brazil have called local hero Seu Jorge’s theme for LG “the real Brazilian World Cup song.” Directed by Spike Lee, this simple branded video keeps it real as Jorge works soccer fans at a house party, in an office, and on the street as a neighborhood explodes into a victory celebration worthy of Carnaval.
3. X Ambassadors and Jamie N Commons, “Jungle”
“The Game Before the Game”
Beats by Dre
The five-minute headphones ad has quickly propelled sales of Jamie N Commons’ “Jungle” to more than 96,000 downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen Soundscan. The ad shows Brazilian Astro Neymar and other major players with the buds glued to their heads as they go through their pre-game rituals.
But in reality, the players have to leave their Beats at home when it comes to the World Cup. FIFA partner Sony, which reportedly distributed its own headphones to the players, rules the turf in the stadiums throughout the tournament.
2. Buraka Som Sistema & Karol Conka, “Bota”
Adidas scored early on with this psychedelic November 2013 promo for its Samba collection. The video, which has almost 5 million YouTube views, is still among the best of the World Cup selection. On the song “Bota,” Portugal’s world techno outfit Buraka Som Sistema gets together with Brazilian rapper Karol Conka (already familiar to fans from the 2014 EA Soccer soundtrack). Freak out!
1. Kanye West, “God Level”
“The Dream: All In or Nothing”
Adidas scores again. The makers of the World Cup Brazuca ball premiered Kanye West’s “God Level” in its players’ performance anxiety spot “The Dream: All In or Nothing,” starring Messi and other soccer stars. West’s rap about “sharks in the water” backed by the urgent talking of drums which evokes the tension on the field and in the stands during a game, capturing the typical vibe in a soccer stadium better than any euphoric anthem ever will.