FIFA Channels Soccer-Loving Kids’ World Cup Excitement in New Global Promos

The campaign kicks off later this week on Fox Sports and Telemundo

The FIFA World Cup promos feature members of the Los Angeles Football Club's academy. Mandalay Sports Media
Headshot of Jason Lynch

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting three weeks from today in Russia, the marketing campaign for the global soccer tournament is ramping up. Earlier this week, the BBC unveiled an animated film which details the World Cup’s most iconic moments via an embroidered tapestry, and now FIFA itself is rolling out several new spots that play up the excitement that younger soccer fans have for the upcoming tournament.

Mandalay Sports Media created five promos for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which launch later this week and will air through June on Fox Sports, FS1, Telemundo and FIFA’s international broadcast partners.

“This was a dream assignment,” said Jon Weinbach, evp and executive producer, Mandalay Sports Media, a “massive” soccer fan who attended World Cup games in 1994 and 1998. FIFA had asked for “a promo campaign that could spotlight their archival footage in an original way and get fans excited about World Cup 2018.”

So Weinbach, who produced the spots, worked with director Matt Ogens (who has directed campaigns for Ford, Toyota and Coors Light) and editor Dan Marks to juxtapose historical World Cup highlights with modern-day footage of kids, who are “dreaming” about past and present soccer heroes.

“The World Cup is the platform where players—and coaches and others—become legends, and that’s how we came up with the tagline: ‘Legends Made Here,’” said Weinbach. Mandalay worked to identify character archetypes, like “hero,” “warrior” and “rebel,” and combine archival FIFA scenes with “kinetic, hand-held footage” of youth soccer prospects.

Here are two of the spots. The second includes narration that connects past, present and future professional soccer players: “It gets in us early. Pushing, gnawing, urging us forward. … There is no why or how, just a yearning to be among the greats, from then and now.”

This was Mandalay’s first time working with FIFA on a promo campaign, though the company had previously talked with FIFA’s executive in charge of original content, James Reilly, about a documentary project. They didn’t get that assignment, but Reilly—who oversaw this World Cup campaign for FIFA—asked them back to pitch on the World Cup campaign.

FIFA greenlit the campaign in March and Mandalay had to deliver it in early May. The company worked with Major League Soccer expansion franchise Los Angeles Football Club, and featured junior players from the LAFC academy in the spots. “It was just great seeing their excitement during the shoots,” said Weinbach.

The promos, FIFA hopes, will ignite World Cup excitement among U.S. audiences, despite the elimination of the U.S. team from contention last October. That “might have been my most depressing day as a sports fan, ever. It still hurts,” said Weinbach. “But the great thing about the World Cup is that it really is the definitive global sporting event, and there’s no shortage of incredible, emotional, iconic moments and players to choose from” in creating the spots.

Weinbach said that “millions” of U.S. viewers will still tune into the games. “The talent, spectacle and drama are just the best and, if anything, it will remind even casual fans of how great the sport is, and why it’s important to support the U.S. team and our clubs here in Major League Soccer,” said Weinbach.

The spots do include athletes from two countries—Holland and Italy—that didn’t make this year’s tournament. “How can you not include Dutch icon Johan Cruyff or Italian hero Gigi Buffon in a campaign about World Cup legends?” said Weinbach, who had also considered featuring U.S. players, although none made the final cut.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.