You’re probably aware that World Cup 2018 is currently taking place and, if you are, you might also be aware that a World Cup advert, on behalf of Burger King in Russia, is currently making headlines… for all the wrong reasons.
The ad in question encouraged Russian women to get pregnant by visiting footballers in order to ensure there are rich pickings for future Russian World Cup teams. In return, Burger King was offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers (its flagship burger) and three million roubles (about £36,000).
Needless to say, the ad didn’t go down well and has now been pulled.
Rewind the clock 20 years and, depending on your age, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll remember the famous advert created by Nike to commemorate World Cup 1998. The ad featured the Brazilian national football team, bored in an airport while waiting for a delayed flight, staging a raucous impromptu kickabout that incorporated fellow passengers, luggage carousels and aeroplanes, and culminated in the original, Brazilian Ronaldo missing an open makeshift goal.
An instant worldwide success that went on to spawn numerous remakes and parodies, the advert has stood the test of time and is arguably one of only a handful that could genuinely be referred to as ‘beloved’ (FourFourTwo magazine even voted it the best advert ever, although they’re probably a little biased).
The lesson here is that, if companies aren’t careful, their attempts to shoehorn a mention of the World Cup into a sexist advert to boost engagement can easily backfire and become a PR disaster. Done right, however, adverts that hitch their wagon to the World Cup can be, as Chris Kamara might say, unbelievable. Nike 1, Burger King 0.