Tears and Joy for England Fans From Adidas


Hey Jude (Custom Sample: Football Fans)


England are still in the European Championships, so let’s have another Euros ad in the Ad Of The Week slot. Of course, they’re only in the quarter-finals thanks to a last-minute piece of magic from the feet of Jude Bellingham, and as it happens it’s the Real Madrid prodigy who stars in this week’s ad, from Adidas and creative agency Johannes Leonardo.

The ad pulls out all the stops to get England fans emotional, with a weepy montage of England’s record at the Euros – the highs of 1996 and 2021, and the lows of, well, every other time. And just to make sure fans’ heartstrings are tugged it’s over a Paul McCartney recording of “Hey Jude”, the Beatles classic that’s become Bellingham’s anthem. The song starts off sad, over scenes of the young Bellingham and other fans watching England go down to defeat. But as “Hey Jude” rises to its anthemic climax, Bellingham scores for his country and we cut to scenes of ecstatic England fans celebrating.

It’s a rollercoaster of an ad, and if you need proof of that just look at the moment-by-moment emotional trace when we showed it to football fans. As with many sporting ads, we tested the Adidas commercial among two audiences: the general public, and football fans. This is because ads intended to run during an event are obviously more likely to be seen by fans watching said event, so it makes sense to see how they perform among the audience we know they’ll reach as well as a wider market.

In the case of Adidas’ ad we found dramatically different responses among the two samples, not in the type of emotion they felt but in the scale and intensity of it. Both the wider public and football fans felt sadness which turned into happiness as the ad progressed. But football fans really got into the journey, with huge peaks of sadness and then a surge of happiness. This was reflected in a far higher emotional intensity score, which feeds into the overall effectiveness of the ad.

Among the general public the ad scores modestly, but for football fans Adidas have a winner here – a strong 4.5-Stars. In our recent study of sports ad effectiveness we call this gap between public and fan perception the “Sport Dividend” – the extra effectiveness an ad has among the audience of sports fans.

Not every sports ad manifests a sports dividend, but for a sportswear brand like Adidas, the effectiveness with fans is probably even more important than the effectiveness with the wider public. And even though there’s a good case for wider appeal away from an actual tournament, with a big event the priority is likely to be showing the fans how you understand and care about the same things they do. In the case of this commercial, that’s exactly what Adidas have done, making an ad that’s powerfully emotive to anyone invested in England’s, and Jude Bellingham’s success.

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