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We’ve been talking a lot about the upcoming World Cup at the Shepper office, and the conversation naturally came around to our favourite World Cup-themed promotions and brand activations.

Here are five top ad campaigns we think are worthy of lifting the trophy!


1. Nike – Secret Tournament (2002)

Often called the best football ad campaign of all time, this suite of ads saw 24 of football’s biggest and brightest stars play to see which team is the best. Directed by Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam, Eric Cantona had a starring role as the referee.

As well as TV spots, the advertising campaign saw local tournaments played across the world and a website where visitors could take part in interactive games.


2. Pringles – Pringoooals (ongoing)

We know World Cup season is near when Pringles brings out its iconic football-themed crisps!

The campaign seems to vary year-on-year, from cool prizes to be won to unique flavours to enjoy. Last year, Pringles brought back the ‘doner kebab’ and ‘pulled pork burger’ crisps to celebrate Euro 2020.

What will they do for the 2022 World Cup? We’ll find out soon.


3. McDonalds – GOL! (2014)

It’s great when brands think outside the box, and this is exactly what McDonald’s did in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The fast-food restaurant launched an augmented reality app – GOL! Every time customers bought a box of fries, they could play a trick shot game and win prizes. In addition, users could win badges, share the results of their game with friends and even compete against people in other countries.


4. Pepsi – Sumo (2002)

Coca-Cola is known as the official drink of the World Cup. However, this doesn’t stop its nearest rival from trying to upstage it each and every time.

Pepsi has done a lot of cool football-themed ads with a lot of household names over the years, but this is our favourite. Filmed to broadcast during the 2002 World Cup in Japan, it showed footballers like David Beckham trying to keep up with a team of sumo wrestlers.


5. Paddy Power – Rainbow Russia (2018)

Paddy Power is a brand known for its ‘love it or hate it’ approach to marketing, and the 2018 World Cup in Russia was a game of two halves.

The bookmaker came under fire for its ‘England til I dye’ ad, where a polar bear had a St George’s cross dyed into its fur.

However, the company received positive acclaim for its ‘Rainbow Russia’ campaign, where it donated £10,000 for every goal Russia scored to LGBT+ charities. In total, £170,000 was sent on behalf of the Russian football team.

We’re looking forward to seeing what innovative ideas brands across the world will come up with in time for the World Cup later this year.

Don’t forget, if you’re a brand wondering how to promote your products in time for the ultimate football tournament, we’ve got lots of useful information on our blog.

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