World Cup Banter Scores for Frito-Lay


Classic Debate


The World Cup is over but there are still lessons to be learned from the ads – especially with the Super Bowl, the next massive sports-and-advertising event, less than 2 months away. Our final Ad Of The Week of 2022 comes from Frito-Lay, whose “Soccer Or Football?” was America’s highest-scoring World Cup ad.

The ad teams up icons from the worlds of football and… the other kind of football – and that ambiguity is what drives the spot. David Beckham and Peyton Manning disagree over exactly what the beautiful game (with the round ball) should be called and each enlists vocal supporters. Who wins? Frito-Lay leaves the question open, though this being a US ad the American football fans are maybe a bit noisier.

Even the corniest of comedians would probably leave the “soccer or football?” debate alone – it’s been done to death across the bars (and pubs) of the world. But Frito-Lay breathe life into it by recruiting two superstars in a light-hearted spot which doesn’t make either sport the butt of the joke. The commercial nods to America’s dominance of the FIFA women’s game, recognizing – as a UK ad might not – that Americans know plenty about football even if they don’t call it that.

Back in 1994, when the USA hosted the World Cup for the first time and Diana Ross botched her opening ceremony penalty kick, the American public might well have said “so what?” to a World Cup ad. In 2022, though, they’re happy to embrace one, especially if it stands up for their right to call the sport whatever they like. Frito-Lays’ spot gets a strong 4.4-Stars on Test Your Ad. It’s not only the highest-scoring US spot of the tournament, it beats all the UK ones this year too.

It’s a good example of how to use celebrities well. Beckham and Payton are representing their sports in an exaggerated way, so they’re doing what we advise brands to do when they have a celebrity star. Don’t just use them as walking endorsements, get them to do what they’re famous for, but in a larger-than-life, tongue-in-cheek way. That’s worth bearing in mind as we gear up for a Super Bowl ad season in which we’ll no doubt see enough celebrities to replace both teams with.

As for the World Cup, Frito-Lay are laying solid groundwork here for Summer 2026, when the world of football – or soccer – will be heading to North America for a tournament where the USA are joint hosts. The brand could do a lot worse than invite Peyton and David back for a rematch.

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