WATCH: The 9 best (and worst) World Cup 2018 TV adverts

From Maroon 5 murdering a Bob Marley classic to a mash-up of Arabic football commentary, we look at the highs and lows

As the World Cup continues into its second round of group matches, it’s probably fair to say most viewers are more than familiar with the television adverts that have accompanied the biggest footballing spectacle on Earth.

Below, Adam Workman critiques some of the highlights – and, quite frankly, lowlights – that have been gracing our screens/clogging up the airwaves during the past week.

Hyundai featuring Maroon 5

If you don’t enjoy the music of Bob Marley on some level, you may not be an actual human being. If you willingly listen to Maroon 5, however, I have similar concerns for you. Much like the American pop-rocker’s multimillion-selling wares, this clumsy juxtaposition of Hyundai's innovative motoring safety features backed by Adam Levine and co is utilitarian in the extreme. “Every little thing is gonna be alright,” Levine informs us, except it won't be, because you have just listened to six middle-aged white men murder a reggae-pop classic. Still, Maroon 5 probably won’t hear our bellyaching as they settle down for another night sleeping in beds made of money.


This impressively arrhythmic effort from Pepsi – the latest in its series of One Love adverts – actually looks as cool as they come as it navigates through an array of Middle Eastern locations, including the UAE, as Arabs of all creeds mean-mug the camera. They're all miming along to a cut-up hip-hop-esque patchwork created from snippets of Arabic football commentary. This should sound amazing, but it's somehow like having your head put inside a revolving speaker while somebody constantly switches between television channels. Full marks for effort, though.

QNB featuring several retired footballers

Manchester United and England defender Paul Scholes was never known for his sense of humour or entertaining lifestyle off the pitch, although since hanging up his boots he has carved a career as a forthright pundit. What possessed him to get involved in this possibly offensive-to-all-Russians ad from QNB – also featuring former world stars Hernan Crespo, David Trezeguet and Gianluca Zambrotta throwing some cringeworthy Cossack-inspired moves – is anybody’s guess.


If you have visited the picturesque nation from whence everybody's favourite European footballing underdogs Iceland hail, you won't be surprised that their contribution to the World Cup 2018 advert game is epic. Soundtracked by their now-famous Viking clap and an evocative groundswell of music reminiscent of Icelandic indie-rockers Sigur Ros, it ends in typically unpretentious fashion with a reveal of their World Cup kit billowing on a washing line in front of a snowy mountainside. Almost as dramatic as saving a penalty from Lionel Messi.

Visa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

In which Zlatan is, well, Zlatan. The Sweden striker has retired from international football, so won’t join his countrymen’s current quest for success. However, in this enjoyably lighthearted ad, he makes a mockery of this fact at a fake press conference by claiming that “Fifa World Cup without me is not worth watching”, and to remedy the problem, he will qualify for the tournament on his own. Bit late now, fella. See you in 2022?

Fox Sports

DO YOU LIKE SOCCERBALL? THEN WATCH THIS SCOREBAG-TASTIC VIDEO FROM AMERICAN BROADCASTING NETWORK FOX SPORTS! WHY ARE WE WRITING IN CAPS? BECAUSE WE’RE SHOUTING! LIKE, REALLY YELLING! THAT’S HOW FOX LIKE THEIR SPORTS, YO! AWESOME, BRO! (To be fair, they’re making a self-referential mockery of this stereotype, but it takes until the Deadpool/David Beckham cameo to be totally sure. Extra points for Lionel Messi as a Dragon Ball character and boxing biting victim Evander Holyfield dissing infamously, err, hungry Uruguay player Luis Suarez, among a smorgasbord of other self-awareness posing as loud-mouthed bombast.)

Lay's and Lionel Messi

Admittedly this isn't a World Cup-specific footy advert, but it has been cropping up at annoyingly regular intervals during the coverage of the tournament. The basic story goes: Argentina and Barcelona megastar Lionel Messi turns up for a very vanilla house party with a bunch of Lay's crisps (or chips, for the North Americans or Antipodeans reading). You know, massive bags of junk food that top-level professional athletes would probably never go anywhere near. And he can barely contain his disdain for the whole thing, just about managing to muster the kind of half-smile that you force out when in a room full of people who you have nothing in common with – filming must have been a laugh a minute.

Lays United

Siempre es mejor mirarlo juntos. #LaysUnited It’s always better to watch together. #LaysUnited

Posted by Leo Messi on Friday, February 16, 2018

Adidas and almost every celebrity ever

The German sports giant already has something of a stranglehold on all things World Cup, having supplied the official ball since Mexico '70. The roll call of stars from across the sporting and entertainment spheres on its official 2018 tournament advert will leave you breathless. From rapper A$AP Ferg to football legend Zinedine Zidane, this 90-second clip also takes in Lionel Messi, Mo Salah, Paul Pogba, Dele Alli, Jose Mourinho, Caroline Wozniacki, Pharrell, Stormzy and many, many more along the way. It’s also, sadly, about as exciting as reading a big, long list of people’s names, suggesting they spent so long negotiating contracts with agents that they neglected to make the whole thing any fun.

Nike and Brazil

No nation is more associated with the World Cup than Brazil, and this effort from their official kit manufacturer Nike makes a decent fist at showcasing the South Americans' national obsession, with all of its present stars – plus a few from the past, including Ronaldo in his bulkier modern-day form hitting the "post" of ad hoc goal in an airport. All Brazilians will be hoping that Neymar will up his game to the white-hot levels he is depicted as hitting in virtual form here during an outrageous goal on the Fifa videogame.

(Disclaimer: neither sports company can compete with this (non-World Cup) footballing advert from 15 years ago)


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