Great sports advertising isn’t easy. So many stakeholders and so many variables. The link between the brand and the sport. The arm wrestle between athlete managers, sponsors and agency folk. And the performance in front of camera from a person who was most probably asleep during theatre class. All for a spot that will most probably air over the single most important moment in the game you’re watching.
But, when it’s done well and everything comes together the result will goose bump skin, kick off social banter and fill inboxes around the world.
It’s Aussie Open time so here are my ‘share worthy’ tennis selects.
Powerade – Ultimate Serve
A 60sec ad from Powerade dating back to the early 2000s, before YouTube and well before the now common viral stunt. I remember watching this ad when it aired. I really like how authentic it feels. They’ve captured all the details of a real match and then play on the athlete’s greatest strength, his powerful serve to deliver the twist.
Kit Kat – Working Like A Machine
Tennis, at times can be such a straight game. All grass courts, white clothes and polite claps and this ad actually draws on a few of those clich√©s and throws in a nice handful of complete randomness that the confectionary brands seem to do so well. The sound effects in this one get me every time.
Nike – Urban Training
Nike always push their advertising. Always gritty and true to their ‘Just Do It’ mantra. And this ad is no different. I suppose it’s true, there’s always an opportunity to train and get better even if you are facing a Spanish riot squad? Well shot and no voice over needed.
American Express – Roddick vs Pong
Another Andy Roddick feature. Roddick had a huge serve, always played hard and showed the crowd a bit of personality so maybe that made him a bit of a favourite with the sponsors? Anyway I like this advert, it’s an unexpected mash-up with a gaming icon that works well and I’m sure answered the brief of ‘overcoming challenges’. It also shows some interesting camera angles that have since been adopted by TV channels and I think what I like most is that it manages to link a credit card to a professional tennis player by more than just the amount of travel they do or their expensive lifestyle.
Nike – Rock N Roll Tennis
Agassi, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, fluoro, mullets, spin effects and all set in the early 90s. The only thing missing was a voiceover from Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah character and the picture would be complete. Proving the power of a solid celebrity cameo, although I’m not 100% sure what this ad is trying to say it doesn’t matter one bit.
Chris Little, digital creative director, M&C Saatchi