Wednesday 27 May 2009

Roma Finale 2009

Anyone who has met me (or read my Twitter posts) will know that I am a big football fan and more specifically a Manchester United fan. So today is an exciting and nerve-tingling day as the hours, minutes and seconds tick down to the climax of the Champions League.

As much as I love the football I also love the Champions League hoopla, the whole pomp and pageantry that accompanies a tournament so concerned with image, the very thing that makes it an advertiser's dream. From the opening bars of the "Champions League" (a specially adapted version of George Frideric Handel's "Zadok the Priest") the scene is set for something a little more magical then your average football match and with the final in Rome this year the idea of athletes in their prime living up to the billing of modern day gladiators is enough to whet the appetites of fans and marketeers alike.

One of my favourites adverts at the moment really taps into the fact that most fans of the Champions League love the theme tune (I would bet there are few fans who don't sing the Champiooooonnnnnns bit...) and Heineken have taken that and created some great spots, offering a humorous view of how the average fan can get close to experiencing winning the Champions League.

Alongside the beer adverts there has to be the traditional player sponsors adverts either during the final or in the days before. This year the main ones seem to come from Reebok and Adidas, though I can't imagine Nike (as United's sponsor and having just signed Ronaldo on a new boot deal) will hold back. Reebok have taken a fun, almost Nintendo Wii-esque approach with their Ryan Giggs and Thierry Henry 'mind games' viral:

Whereas Adidas have opted for an approach that is most definitely influenced by the spate of superhero movies released in the last few years. In my opinion football advertising often falls into these two camps, humorous or adrenalin-fuelled superhuman exploits. The humorous approaches often play to the adult fan, a kind of nod and a wink to the fan who doesn't play that much football but loves the game. Whereas the all singing, all dancing adverts cater to the teenagers who dream of making it like their idols, or the romantics enticed by the silky skills and enthralled by the dream of vicarious achievement. The latter adverts also work with the neutrals, those who turn on tonight because it's a final, because it features "that Portuguese one and the Argentinian" who will inevitably be let down when the first tackle takes the ball away from Ronaldo or Messi and sees them ushered out of the game. I am not embarrassed to admit that I am a romantic fan, as I would guess most people who go to the grounds on match days are. I love the game, the crowd, the chanting, the build up, the nerves and I love seeing great players play well, whoever they play for. So I am definitely a fan of the Adidas advert below:

I was lucky enough to be in Moscow last year for the final and I have great memories of that game despite the relentless, torrential rain. It is for this reason that I mention the Champions League Festival, the 5 day build up 'experiential task' awarded to Iris Experience to occupy fans of both teams in the run up to this season's final. For all the negative comments about the sponsorship and product placement rife in the modern game to a wet, bored, poor fan in rainy Moscow the Champions League Festival and all its branded merchandise was a godsend. A masterstroke of simple planning it gave a focus to the hours before the 9:45pm kick off and occupied the thousands of people milling around with young player tournaments, all star games, celebrity interviews and the chance to be photographed with the trophy. I am not sure if Iris organised it last year, but I hope they do a great job this year to ensure the fans are occupied in safe areas of Rome.

Finally to end on a less commercial note tonight's game will see the launch of a public awareness campaign by UK Charity Malaria No More. The charity has been chosen as the recipient organisation of the Sky Red Button Campaign, so viewers will be able to press the red button and access information about the charity (and donate) during Sky Sports 1's coverage of the final. David Beckham fronts this campaign and I think it's a great use of an available technology to try and capitalise on the interest generated by the celebrity lead PSA by offering an immediate and easy way to donate.

Enjoy the game and let's hope the best team win :-)

P.s for anyone wanting to enjoy the game online later the UEFA official website has a live stream available.

Extra information:
Unclear on the credits for the adverts posted, I will add them as I track them down!

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