Top 10 Soccer Commercials Ever Made

Saturday is the Champions League final in London between Manchester United and Barcelona. What better way to get ready than by watching our picks for the 10 best soccer commercials ever made? Perhaps not surprisingly, the list is dominated by Nike (and Wieden + Kennedy), with Adidas's soccer spots often seeming to fall a bit short. We left off most of the fluffy stuff (like every Pepsi soccer spot ever done) in favor of the meat and potatoes. The choice for No. 1 is contentious, naturally, so let us know how you feel about it.

  1. Nike Shox


    Wieden + Kennedy, 2003

    Click to view. This Frank Budgen-directed spot remains advertising's most amusing celebration of the sports world's free-spirited exhibitionists. (It hardly mattered that it advertised running shoes, not soccer cleats.) Filmed in December 2002 at Millwall's pitch in London, it starred 32-year-old Mark Bowden in the title role, along with 300 extras. Bowden reportedly distinguished himself during the shoot by screaming with pain in the chilly weather. He later said: "I think I look pretty good in it, actually, but any man will tell you what happens when it's really cold."

  2. Nike

    "Secret Tournament"

    Wieden + Kennedy, 2002

    Click to view. Created for the 2002 World Cup, this campaign (which included the three-minute spot above) imagined a secret three-on-three, first-goal-wins soccer tournament held on a container ship, featuring 24 of the world's best players and refereed by former Manchester United legend Eric Cantona (seen above). It doesn't get much cooler than eight mini dream teams competing in a cage match, and director Terry Gilliam brought the concept to life with style. The campaign included 3-D gaming, downloadable posters and perhaps most important, the catch remixed version of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation."

  3. Gatorade

    "The Road"

    Element 79 Partners, 2006

    Click to view. A wonderful patriotic spot from Gatorade for the 2006 World Cup featuring gritty footage from the U.S. team's journey to the tournament set to the baseball standard "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Sadly, the team's journey out of that tournament was a whole lot quicker.

  4. Adidas

    "Messi (Impossible Is Nothing)"

    180 Amsterdam, 2007

    Click to view. Plenty of athletes have starred in the "Impossible is nothing" campaign. Few have faced the kind of genuine physical obstacles to success that Lionel Messi has. All Messi did was overcome his struggles to become the best player in the world. A triumph of storytelling for Adidas, whose action soccer spots tend to fall short.

  5. Nike

    "Ronaldinho R10 Crossbar"

    Framfab Denmark, 2005

    Click to view. One of the truly great "Is it real or fake?" viral commercials of our time, this spot showed Ronaldinho hitting the crossbar four times in a row from 20 yards away. The Brazilian star might not be quite that skillful, but the commercial—which aired online first, and was then screened in public places—itself was masterful. It ended up winning a gold Lion in Cyber and a silver Lion in Film at Cannes in 2006.

  1. Carlsberg

    "Pub Team"

    Saatchi & Saatchi, 2006

    Click to view. Most soccer spots celebrate the speed and power of youth. This one headed brilliantly in the opposite direction. It showed a Sunday pub team that happens to include some of England greatest-ever players—Peter Shilton, Des Walker, Bryan Robson, Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher, Alan Ball, Jack Charlton and Bobby Charlton, with the late Sir Bobby Robson as the manager. The run-of-the-mill premise—that if Carlsberg ran a pub team, it would be the best in the world—is elevated by the spot's aging stars, who bring the sport gloriously down to earth by playing, long past their prime, for love of the game.

  2. Nike

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