The bits in-between

The World Cup inspires limitless passion among football fans and patriots alike the world over, and big business seizes the opportunity to capture their attention.
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With the World Cup in South Africa now under way, billions of fans are glued to television screens around the globe. It's no surprise, then, that many of the world's biggest businesses are seizing the opportunity to get their message heard. The World Cup has inspired some of the most memorable and creative marketing campaigns in recent history - packed with A-list stars and hefty budgets. We check out 10 of the best and worst adverts from this year's tournament.

You know your advert is a hit when Facebook and Twitter users turn it into the latest viral video sensation. While it's impossible to guarantee that any clip will become an internet meme, anyone savvy enough to make their advert an homage to Star Wars stands a good chance of success. The two-minute short inserts a host of stars from the worlds of music and sport (Forest Gump-style) into the film's iconic "cantina scene". It sees Daft Punk, Noel Gallagher, David Beckham and others star alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo. Look out for Snoop Dogg wielding a lightsabre and Beckham's dodgy acting. Kudos to Adidas for making a World Cup advertisement with no football in it.

Undoubtedly the most epic ad of the World Cup, this three minute spot begins conventionally enough; scenes of jubilation as some of the biggest names in football are shown scoring mesmerising goals. But then it takes a rather strange turn: attempting to show how the England star Wayne Rooney's life would pan out if he failed to score a winning goal: bearded, living in a caravan and eating baked beans, apparently. It then shows an alternate reality in which Rooney successfully scores the goal, followed by hospitals full of babies named Wayne. Oh, and the Portuguese player Ronaldo meets Homer Simpson. Weird, but good weird.

The South African telecoms company MTN has come-up with the funniest and least politically correct advert of the bunch, by taking a shot at one of football's biggest rivalries: England versus Germany. It shows a man wearing an England shirt, teaching his son the Germany-baiting chant "two World Wars and one World Cup! England! England!", as they leave their hotel room to watch a game. When the elevator on their floor opens to reveal a large group of Deutschland fans, he sheepishly steps in, only for the son to begin obliviously chanting the words. Ah, the innocence of youth.

At first it seems so conventional: grainy images of the nation's greatest players in training, inspirational slogans about victory, splashes of the national colours amid an adrenaline-like haze of quick edits and whip-cracking sound effects. But what is all this building up to? A quote about art, strangely enough: Vincent van Gogh's "orange is the colour of insanity". While no one would begrudge the Dutch for celebrating their national colour and their favourite son at the same time, is a football advert really the place to do it?

A send-up of one of the greatest music videos of recent years, Beyoncé's Single Ladies, the Brazilian food company Seara probably assumed players Robinho, Neymar da Silva and Paulo Henrique Ganso could dance just a little when they enlisted them for their campaign. It turns out they can't. What begins as a pretty straightforward routine (albeit with added footballs) quickly descends into a juvenile farce, with the players even putting the balls under their shirts so they look pregnant. It ends with the trio falling into fits of laughter, probably in an attempt to conceal their inner shame.

Excluding the likes of the Adidas Star Wars campaign, most World Cup adverts fall into one of two categories: celebrating football or celebrating the world. Visa opts for the latter. It sees an excited fan run from his sofa in Britain to a World Cup match in South Africa, with his trusty Visa card as his only luggage. At the beginning of the clip, the fan resembles the chubby comedian James Corden. By the time he reaches his destination he's as svelte as a professional footballer. It's imaginative, but loses points for presenting a Disney image of each location: Middle East means camels, and so on.

Pepsi somehow manages to bring together all the worst possible elements for a World Cup advert in this series. It features footballers trying to act, an unimaginative story in which star players struggle to match African villages at football and, worst of all, the music of Akon. It sees Thierry Henry leading a bunch of footballers who must play the local people for a few cans of Pepsi (which seems rather unfair), but because there's no pitch, the crowd of onlookers become the perimeter of the ground themselves by forming a perfect rectangle.

This advertisement contains two of the best-loved characters from the British comedy show Little Britain and the England manager Fabio Capello. It sees the hapless carer, Lou, pushing his (supposedly) wheelchair-bound friend, Andy, up to the England boss during a training session. While Lou is asking Capello to autograph his shirt, Andy rises from his chair and outplays the England squad, scoring a goal with an impressive acrobatic display. They made the same joke years ago with a diving board, but it's still surprisingly funny.

Perhaps it is because of Coke's catch-all marketing policy, but this one minute 10 second advertisement has just six seconds of football in it - well, they wouldn't want to alienate people who are not fans, would they? The computer-generated advert shows an African child kicking a ball with friends until suddenly they fly off into the sky and start fighting giant robots. Seriously. As ludicrous as it sounds, it is visually imaginative and has great vocals by the Canadian-Somali singer K'naan.

Leave it to the Americans to focus not on the beautiful game, but a beautiful woman. Well, sort of. This clip pokes fun at that all-important demographic - the "soccer mom". It sees a mother arrive at her son's football practice fully kitted out and ready to take on the boys. Not only are the male coaches distracted by her feminine wiles, but she's pretty nifty with the ball too, scoring with a bicycle kick.