Can U2 turn Americans into soccer fans?

Since recruiting international soccer stars to the States hasn’t worked in terms of making the sport popular on a professional level here, why not recruit a world-famous rock band to borrow some interest in the upcoming World Cup? That’s my guess from the sidelines as to why ESPN and Wieden + Kennedy chose U2 to both provide the voiceover talent and the soundtracks for four spots promoting the FIFA World Cup, which will air stateside on ESPN and ABC from June 9 to July 9. Two spots narrated by Bono employ the usual themes of sports as force for unity. (For the purposes of world peace, I’ll just cast a blind eye, in this instance, toward soccer hooliganism.) And while those spots have an admirably light touch, the other two, wherein The Edge talks about a 300 percent increase in sick days during the Cup and Adam Clayton goes on about fandom in Scotland (yes, you’re right—the Scots didn’t even make the tournament), are decidedly droll. A fifth, being voiced by Larry Mullen Jr., is still being shot. Certainly worth streaming, even if, like me, you don’t give a rat’s ass about soccer, and your idea of a game that fits into the campaign’s "One game changes everything" theme is this. (For the record, I’ve no idea what the people in this frame, from one of the spots, are wearing. They are not, so far as I know, the members of U2 trying to go incognito.)

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor