IDEA: New York City Football Club, the 20th franchise in Major League Soccer, won't field a team until 2015 and doesn't even have any players yet. Thankfully, it has a high-powered sister club in England whose world-class athletes can film some nifty promos in the meantime.
The first one hit YouTube late last month, showing stars from the famed Manchester City F.C. (which co-owns NYCFC with the New York Yankees) playing a game of "keepie uppie"—juggling and kicking a ball back and forth, while trying not to let it hit the ground—around famous New York City landmarks. The idea, which came from Man City's marketing team, was just to get some fun content out there and build excitement—an appetizer with no paid media behind it.
"It's a first creative piece to just casually enter the market," said Brian Edelman, CEO of New York digital agency Rain, which produced the video. "It's meant to be viral and fun—a light introductory piece about what could be someday."
TALENT/COPYWRITING: The players include Sergio Agüero, Vincent Kompany, James Milner, Yaya Touré, Samir Nasri, Joe Hart, David Silva, Gaël Clichy and Matija Nastasić. Nike's famous 1998 spot with the Brazilian team kicking a ball around an airport was among the inspirations. "If we're in the same sentence in terms of quality and creative as what Nike's done, that's always our goal," said Edelman.
The Man City players start out near the Brooklyn Bridge, with Jane's Carousel in the background. Seeing a girl and boy kicking a ball back and forth, they take the ball (leaving one of their own) and embark on their citywide game—hitting the High Line, Yankee Stadium and Rucker Park before returning to the Brooklyn Bridge and giving the boy from the first scene his ball back, now signed by all of them. There is no dialogue.
At the end, over a bird's-eye view of Central Park, the Manchester City F.C. text logo appears, joined by that of New York City F.C., along with the nycfc.com/jointhemovement URL and the new team's Facebook and Twitter addresses.
FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Ericson Core, cinematographer on The Fast and the Furious and director of Invincible and the upcoming Point Break remake, shot the spot in two days in May, when Man City was touring the U.S. for a couple of friendly matches.
"We prayed for good weather, because we had no backup shooting days," said Edelman. "The locations, I think, make the piece at least as much as the players. But it's pretty cool to have some of the greatest soccer players in the world running around New York City."
The Yankees connection helped them get on that field for those shots. The players are such accomplished dribblers that they needed very few takes, although they weren't completely superhuman. "We thought David Silva could maybe dribble up the steps of the High Line instead of kicking it up, but it turns out that's actually sort of impossible," said Edelman.
Everything was shot in natural daylight and is meant to feel "very raw and real." The players drew onlookers wherever they went, though not everyone knew who they were. "It was fun to see how European the High Line is. There was a big crowd there pretty quickly," Edelman said, "though of course a lot of Americans walked by, not really caring."
SOUND: The music is the funky, upbeat 2012 track "Happy" by the French turntable group C2C. The agency considered commissioning an original song, but this one "just fit with the tone," said Edelman. "I also think it's good to have something that's not mainstream, so people can discover new music along with the ad."
MEDIA: YouTube and NYCFC's website.
Client: New York City Football Club
Creative Director: Timothy Whitney
Agency Executive Producers: Brian Edelman, Nick Godfrey, Andrew Howlett
Agency Producer: Becca Wenner
Agency Co-Producer: Doug Miller
Director: Ericson Core
Steadicam: Stephen Consentino
Production Company: Imagina US
Producer: Mark de Angelis
Producer: Tammy Leech
Editor: Dahkil Hausif