Déjà-vu is not a Brazilian midfielder… You’re far more likely to find him working in an advertising agency on behalf of major brands. He will be the first to tell you that it’s not just football – it’s a way of life with tournament-related advertising. It might be four years since the last World Cup but the tactics effectively remain the same.
Once again we’re in that four-year window of the blandest of football association where specifics are less important than the continuous attack on our senses by football-related ads – some of them entertainingly tenuous beyond belief.
Except of course it’s not just every four years… the dominant themes are simply a reiteration/continuation of every branded tournament – an approach honed on the seasonal franchise of the Champions League and that other four-year source of national deflation the European Championships: a case of Creatives United.
It’s like being under siege from a relentless series of high balls pumped into the box. Many adverts lacking subtlety in much the same manner as the English game product on the pitch – the one that purports to inspire all these responses.
What is it with the big league brand and the World Cup? The advertising equivalent of Eurovision… it supplies a need but with a curious hybrid that says very little and exists largely on its own terms. Too often it appears the work of little boys and girls opining for world peace. All keepy-uppy and empty tricks from gaming-based camera work and similarly inane character realisation.
Do these creators have any contact with football at all? Or is it purely advertising by and for the two polar fan extremes – the prawn sandwich and takeaway pizza brigades? Football is full of characters: great sound bites – both funny and tragic. There is depth – albeit ultimately derived from an arrested development – but that is no different to audience engagement in most arenas as a result of the cultural deification of youth and the desire never to grow up.
“Toss the whole vapid one-size-fits-all cross-border contamination into the box…”
However you consume football there is undeniable meaning beyond the touchline boundaries: venom, beauty, fellowship, community, sarcasm, wit, nationalism, songs and chants, love of the shirt, the strange and unexplained; influences that are abrasive and exciting – the ultimate of crowd-sourced. All far from the meek affectation we’re too often saddled with.
These wizards of the computer-generated dribble never tire of self-promotion when it comes to the golden goal of telling stories as convincingly as a Ronaldo free kick and yet… when has any of their football stories inspired you beyond the visual shorthand of psychedelic colours, fake excitement and bland bonhomie? These pop videos with football – but no balls.
That so much of this advertising is of super stadium superstars is down to the swallowing of the regulation Champions league version of the truth – not of the windswept small-scale realities. It all needs bringing down from these Olympian heights. The game is not just for the gods and beer monsters. Or for the game generation without truth in their hearts or any evidence they actually go to the ‘Soccer.’
It’s all about impression and effect; the contrived over the concrete – with very few attempts at the truly emotional. Is this really the best these vaunted masters of the story can produce? Is the brand leading the bland or vice-versa? It’s so much visual SEO. Football white bread with it all taken ‘owt.
So Nike – just do one… Samsung we’ll call you… And as for Coca-Cola – cut the Beckhamesque nice guy shtick and get a bit more Jose Mourinho. How many more times are we going to be told that the world runs on coke? Probably does… but not your kind. Time to get over this empty rumbling; this gassy belching; this overindulged celebration…
Enough of these asinine corporations pumping their wares with the usual line-up of superstars and prima-donnas: global gods come down to do us a favour: their egos inflated to accompany the astronomical paychecks. This accepted code has been running since the day Sky annexed football and the Premier League became a rampant money pit – the City with boots on.
Here we go; here we go; here we go… One world, global celebration, be more Brazilian; rainbow nation, samba, Copacabana, festival of humanity, fiesta, carnival of football, diversity, melting pot, come together… yawn… It’s all beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – with the odes to superficial harmony and vague goodwill. Commercial realities passed down like folk wisdom though with none of the collective insight or affection.
It’s as if all the big agencies are using the same team sheet. Where’s the new creative playmaker or the holy grail of a regular goalscorer? Time for a new language. Toss the whole vapid one-size-fits-all cross-border contamination into the box and come up with something specific and genuinely inspiring.
It’s time to stop air-brushing the muscles and bank accounts of the same old Galacticos and the body fascism straight out of Triumph of the Will via a PS2 albeit with the odd local demigod chucked in – Hi Wayne! – and really connect with the fans. Though that’s probably as likely as England winning the World Cup.