The 5 Best World Cup Ads 2018

We tested dozens of World Cup ads from around the world using our suite of market research platforms – including a whole bunch of English ones. You can read about the UK crop in a piece we helped with for Marketing Week. As for the rest of the world, here are the Top 5 ads we rated.

WINNER: GALP – “Leva Portugal o Peito” (Portugal, 5 Stars)

Our winner marries national pride, an entertaining story, a ton of visual variety and an excellent use of celebrity players without making them the entire focus. The result is an ad which both flatters and gently mocks Portugese self-perception, and it left a lot of viewers extremely happy. Proof, too, that there are no boring categories: Galp is an energy brand, not generally the most scintillating marketers

FINALIST: NIKE – “Vai na Brasileiragem” (Global, tested in Portugal, 5-Stars)


Nike’s global campaign this year chose to forego the standard parade of famous faces and focus heavily on Brazil and its street football traditions. The result is a campaign that feels more gutsy and authentic than other glitzy outcomes, but the specific nature of the spot carries risks. We tested it in two countries – in Portugal, which shares a language with Brazil, it was a 5-Star triumph. In Britain, which lacks the same traditions, the ad only managed 2-Stars. It points up the difficulty of making global campaigns with bite.

SEMI-FINALIST: QUILMES – “Contrato” (Argentina, 4-Stars)

Quilmes – Contrato from La América on Vimeo.

National football is about huge expectations and almost-inevitable disappointment. This powerful ad for Argentine beer Quilmes (which shares its name with the oldest football club in the country) captures both sides of the equation. Simple, bold and patriotic, it struck a big chord with Argentine viewers… and football fans in the System1 office, one of whom said it captures being a fan better than any other commercial.

SEMI-FINALIST: OTTO – “WM-Zeitreise ’54, ’74, ‘90” (Germany, 4-Stars)

German football fans probably wish they could enjoy a Zeitreise (time travel journey) to two weeks ago – but however badly the World Cup campaign went, this ad for online retailer Otto remains an amusing romp through Germany’s national and football history.

FAIR PLAY AWARD: CONTINENTE – “Campeoes da Europa” (Portugal, 4-Stars)

Finally, another Portugese ad, from supermarket chain Continente. If your country has actually won a major tournament (as Portugal did in 2016), you’re allowed to celebrate for as long as you like, and this simple ad put viewers in a good mood. Interestingly, though, Continente issued two versions of this ad – one with a girl, one with a boy. The one with the boy only managed a 3-Star score.

And what about the worst ads? In our UK testing we found a lot of 1-Star commercials but two big names stood out for their disappointing approaches, which offer lessons on what not to do.

The first is Kia, whose “Get Into The Game” is a miskick from a normally surefooted advertiser. It strikes a celebratory tone, but compared to Nike or Quilmes its footage and attitudes don’t feel as real, leaving the impression of a generic sports ad from a brand which has heard there’s a World Cup going on but doesn’t really know much about it.

But the real wooden spoon goes to Adidas, whose “Create The Answer” is the ultimate version of the celebrity-filled World Cup ad, a mish-mash of camera tricks, football faces and other celebrities all partying and hanging out. This kind of aspirational, never-mind-the-quality-feel-the-budget approach feels terribly 00s, and our viewers punished the commercial, giving it a low 1-Star rating.

Finally, it has to be said, there’s no relationship between results in the ads and results on the pitch. Argentina, Germany and Portugal may have contributed the best commercials in our study… but their journeys to Russia all ended in an early bath. While England, whose brands shied away from nationalism and whose adverts were mostly a snooze, are still in the tournament. There are some factors brands simply can’t do anything about.


At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident, creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful ad testing platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand monitoring tool which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.

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