Euros Final Winner

England came, saw but unfortunately didn’t conquer and for England fans the long wait continues from the historic win in 1966. Back then London was swinging, Britannia ruled the airwaves, and the ads looked like this:

When the Euro 2020 final aired on ITV, tinned salmon was obviously not on the menu, but advertising in major sporting events showed its presence again. And one of the ads shown was  the System1/ITV Euro 2020 competition winner – submitted to ITV in the hope of winning a free slot on air in the Euro 2020 final.

Before we talk about the winner and see if you spotted the winning entry, let’s quickly review how the competition worked.

Brands entering their ads had them tested using System1’s Test Your Ad, which predicts commercial effectiveness over the short- and long-term. We sent the five highest scoring ads – all 3-Star or higher – to ITV for Round 2, in which a group from ITV’s Creative Village sat down with the ads and decided which deserved that final spot the most.

And the winner is…. Aldi!

As a wise man said, never write off the Germans. Did you spot the ad?

Aldi’s ad has a lot to enjoy. A commentary legend in the form of ITV’s Clive Tyldesley. A fluent device – the Bad Swap Good Swap scenario. A nod to the sad fate of the stay-at-home fan. No bogus sentiment – viewers can spot that a mile off. It’s not a perfect ad – the hard-sell voiceover really could be straight out of 1966 – but it finishes well with a final joke.

The brand might not be British but the sensibility is – take one element of football culture and make a cheeky ad from it. McDonalds also used commentary, with kid pundits commentating on the brand’s “Fun Football”. Another strong performer, Deliveroo, made “England Till I Dine”, playing on the “England Till I Die” chant with a spoken word piece about the huge variety of food that’s getting the nation through the Euros. And Heineken made an ad reflecting international rivalries – one of the few to reference how the tournament was delayed.

One thing that’s firmly out of fashion now are ads featuring actual footballers – a far cry from the 00s, when Beckham, Rooney, Ronaldo, and the rest rubbed shoulders in sports brand blockbusters. Only one of our Top 5 had a tournament player – Raheem Sterling’s simple and thoughtful ad for Gillette. Using the stars is a gamble, of course – if they underperform, people like the ad less. Sterling’s excellent performances for England won’t have hurt people’s response to the Gillette spot.

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Football tournaments have become a chance for brands to demonstrate their on-the-spot creativity online and in print, reflecting events as they happen. The nature of this competition meant that wasn’t really the case in our entries, but a special credit for the British Heart Foundation charity, who turned around a TV spot in 24 hours following the shocking events of Denmark’s first game, when swift on-pitch medical attention saved Christian Erikson’s life.

The speed and swift reversals of events on the pitch highlight another factor in tournament advertising. For retailers, especially, a major tournament is a high-wire logistics challenge, with sudden spikes and crashes in demand. The brand-building element of ads remains important, but in the heat of the event the short-term sales boosts matter just as much.

At System1 we predict that using our Spike score, which reflects both brand recognition and the intensity of the emotional response to the work. Short, sharp, clear and funny work tends to perform well, and all our Top 5 had strong or exceptional Spike Ratings, with Heineken’s spot the best of all. Another ad which did well on both Spike and long-term Star Ratings came from Ocado, the only non-football ad in the Top 5. Ocado took a similar – but more tuneful – approach to Deliveroo, with a light-hearted song about food (and what a variety Ocado offers). It’s a reminder that you don’t have to tie your brand to a team, or even a tournament, to make something strong and emotional when an event comes round. Special mention must also go to Carlsberg, who also scored highly and make a serious point in a fun and engaging way that really connected with audiences. Carlsberg perhaps more than any reflect the changing priorities of brands but have managed to get it right. They topped the System1 rankings and also came a close second to Aldi in the ITV village

Congratulations to Aldi, to England for getting this far and Italy, the winners of Euro 2020, and roll on next year’s World Cup!

For more on how to make a great sports ad, download our Starting 11 Guide.

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