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Kick off the World Cup with Nike, Adidas, Budweiser, and more

Celebrate the world’s biggest commercial….er, soccer tournament by watching some of the best World Cup ads so far.

Kick off the World Cup with Nike, Adidas, Budweiser, and more

It’s here. Today the 2018 World Cup kicks off, featuring 32 teams playing 64 games over 33 days, in front of hundreds of millions of eye balls–and brands want a serious slice of that action. Like the Olympics, the World Cup is a chance every four years for marketers to tap into that unique emotional attachment people have for their athletic heroes, and the storylines and drama that any major competition inevitably creates. Whether you see it as an unprecedented festival of collective humanity, or a crass monument for rampant consumerism, there’s no denying its scope, impact and cultural significance.

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Advertising is the World Cup’s hype man, designed to amp up our emotions and interest, and then channel that into a sale. This year, in addition to the usual suspects like Nike, Adidas, Budweiser, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola, our collection includes ads from broadcasters, Icelandic vodka, gambling sites, e-commerce platforms, Spotify’s special playlists and content, and one goosebump-inducing spot from a beer in Argentina.

Nike “Vai na Brasileiragem”

Here Nike has some fun with the Brazilian team, a bit of a throwback to a certain airport classic from World Cup 1998.

Adidas “Create the Answer”

Here the three-stripes keeps with its long-running, street style-inspired vibe by creating what appears to be a peek into our football-fashion-music Thunderdome future.

Budweiser “World Cup Drone Film”

Sure, an unimaginative title, but …drones! It’s both an ode to Wall-E, and a look at the terrifying future of ordering a beer at a game.

Visa “Press Conference”

One word: Zlatan. The big Swede had long been hinting he might come out of international retirement to play for Sweden in Russia, but close listeners would notice he was only saying he’d be in Russia–not actually playing. The jig was up when this campaign launched and it was revealed the newest member of LAFC would be playing spokesman instead of striker.

Coca-Cola “Colors”

Coke’s newest soccer anthem comes courtesy of Jason Derulo. Maybe it’ll finally get K’naan’s 2010 Coke ditty out of my head.

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Icelandic Air “Team Iceland Stopover”

When you share a passport with the Cinderella darlings of world football, you might as well take advantage of it.

Reyka Vodka “Join Team Iceland”

Speaking of the soccer hipster’s choice, Reyka is trying to convince American fans to jump on the thunderclap bandwagon.

BBC “World Cup 2018 Launch Trailer”

Made up of 600 separate embroidery frames, this spot stylishly features current star players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Harry Kane, along with heroes of the past like Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. A uniquely old-school approach to storytelling, with a tech-modern twist.

Bwin “Who stole the Cup?”

The gambling site imagines what a World Cup-themed heist movie would look like.

Gatorade “Heart of a Lio”

Gatorade goes all in on superstar Messi, animating the career and life of the Argentina legend, with just a few exaggerations.

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Beats by Dre “Made Defiant”

It may not equal director Guy Ritchie’s 2008 classic for Nike, “The Next Level,” but the director still serves up a fun, stylish romp that feels like some cockney punter’s yarn, reeled off after a pint or eight.

McDonald’s “Unclocked”

The Golden Arches capitalizes on its global presence by showing fans all over the world who are too busy watching games to cook their own food.

Telemundo “Lo Vivimos Juntos”

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, the story here is plain to see. It’s all in the name of the ad that translates to, “We live it together.”

Wish “#TimeOnYourHands”

The e-commerce platform took a slightly different tack than most brands–instead of featuring players at the World Cup, it enlisted soccer stars whose countries didn’t qualify for the tournament. Read more about it here.

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Quilmes “Vamos Argentina”

This has become a fan favorite. In a wonderful ode to the complicated relationship between Argentina’s team and its fans, the brand had Oscar Ruggeri, who won the World Cup in 1986, ask fans why they’ve fallen out of love with the national team.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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