World Cup 2010

Every two years a major global sporting event throws up a series of media issues and debates. The World Cup kicks off in a few weeks and the next Summer Olympics arrives in London in 2012.

Now seems a good time to prepare for the media stories of South Africa 2010. Some of these are predictable. For instance, the international film industry is all too aware of the impact of televised football on cinema attendances during major televised football competitions – especially in Europe. One of the ways of attracting audiences is with counter-programming of films deemed more attractive to women who might be looking for an escape from football. The World Cup starts on June 11. Sex and the City 2 – the major Summer blockbuster targeting women – was released in North America and worldwide on 28 May. Was this too early? Or does the studio hope to have created such a buzz by June 11 that groups of women will be returning for repeat screenings?

Not sure why this poster gives the date June 10 – unless the release date was changed at the last moment – but the creative idea behind the ad seems pretty straightforward. . . .

. . . and of course, advertising is what the World Cup is really about – the exploitation of the brands of famous footballers alongside global brands. There is too much of it to go into in detail here, so perhaps we should first collect together some of the campaigns first and then pick out some of the issues. I’m willing to bet that one will be the woeful misrepresentation of Africa and South Africa in particular. The most high-profile campaign usually comes from Nike and this year’s features Christian Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney as star attractions:

I’m not sure how to describe this clip – a meta advertisement? Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárittu discusses his ‘Write the Future’ ad which features Didier Drogba and Roger Federer as well as Homer Simpson – so it isn’t really about South Africa 2010 at all. For that we have to turn to Puma. The German company sponsors four African National Teams in the World Cup Finals (Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast) and so it’s not surprising it celebrates African football. It’s great to see a representation of African footballers playing in Africa. Enjoy!

One response to “World Cup 2010

  1. Your chosen ads are fascinating, and yes, how good to see the African imagery in the Puma one.
    For a great piece contexting these, and also news and entertainment coverage of the Cup more widely, see David Runciman’s piece:

    This draws attention to what he calls the ‘raw free-market system of human trafficking, where entrepreneurs set up football academies to train up young African players and then trade them on to clubs in Europe’. It goes alongside a sharp analysis of why the money poured into such an event is not likely to have long term impact.

    Here’s part of his conclusion, for a taster:

    ‘Fifa is determined to put on a good show, and the expectation is that we will see the best of Africa, or at least Fifa’s definition of it: an efficient, well-organised event that need frighten none of the sponsors or merchandisers or money-men for whom the game now exists. The facilities will be ready on time, the contractors will have been paid off, the corruption will have been swept under the carpet. There will be plenty of local colour and no doubt lots of attractive football. New superstars will be born, some of them African, maybe even some of them South African, whom the European clubs will snap up once the tournament is over. There will be a vast audience in Asia for the matches, among fans whose interest is not in any particular country but in seeing the stars of the European leagues, the Ronaldos, the Rooneys, the Drogbas. In the African countries that have a chance of doing well in the tournament there will be huge excitement and scenes of euphoria, which Fifa and the world’s media will milk for all they are worth.’

    Runciman also did a great piece for London Review of Books, Jan. 2006, called ‘He shoots! He scores!’ about some of the ‘magical’ writing around sports.

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