With the World Cup just around the corner, soccer’s international governing body, Fifa, is blending the game’s rich history with the present and future in a series of promotional spots that show players at all levels of the game.
The future is represented by footage of young players playing at local clubs and even on dusty vacant lots in their bid to make it to the next level of the sport. Those powerful images of youth soccer players is juxtaposed with historic images of legends like Pele and Maradonna, along with current superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo.
The spots, produced by Mandalay Sports Media (MSM) out of Los Angeles, will begin running in June and will air throughout the duration of the competition. The mix of 15 spots - in 60-, 30- and 15-second iterations – all feature the tagline “Legends Made Here.”
MSM won a global ‘bake-off’ among agencies and production companies to get the campaign, which will air on Fifa's rights-holding broadcasters around the world, including Fox, FS1 and Telemundo in the United States. Fifa asked for a campaign that would spotlight archival footage in an original way, and MSM executive producer Jon Weinbach worked with director Matt Ogens to craft a concept that mixed iconic archival material with cinematic, emotional footage of young, unknown adolescent players.
Their idea was to identify character archetypes – like ‘heroes,’ ‘warriors’ and ‘rebels’ – and match those labels with both great archival clips from Fifa's extensive archive and kinetic, hand-held footage of a diverse group of youth soccer prospects. The campaign had to be executed very quickly – it was greenlit in March and had to be delivered by early May. Several of the young players in the campaign play for the academy teams of Los Angeles Football Club, the new Major League Soccer expansion franchise.
“The assignment was to access the archives but to use the archives in an exciting new way. Our idea asked, ‘How do we elevate this?’ We wanted more than highlight reel. We wanted to juxtapose these kids and iconic moments,” said producer Weinbach.
Weinbach, who calls himself a “massive soccer geek,” worked with his friend Ogens, who formed a team to quickly gather a diverse cast of players and put together a two-day shoot that was to represent a global audience.
“We spent a few days looking at places in LA to look like Korea, Brazil, and others. We used four or five different locations, all mostly around East LA and Highland Park, as well as Cal State LA. They were so awesome. We had been exploring doing projects with Football Club LA. (The kids) are as great cross section of LA as you’re going to see – all different ethnicities and backgrounds. That’s how we made it global – we used LA.”
Weinbach added that the kids were very natural on camera, too, reacting with raw emotion and refined skills to live up to the archetypes in the spots.
“It’s authentic – these are kids who are at the top of their game in youth soccer. Matt and Billy (Pena, director of photography) were incredible on the shoot – they made it natural and incredible,” said Weinbach.
The promo spots all have a similar look, with cuts that go from the past to the present to the kids, but they all have a different feel. One features a Brazilian vibe, with parade-style drumming and the archetype words in Portuguese, while another has a British voice over.
“We wanted it to feel real, with a global, international vibe,” said Weinbach. “Visually, each is a bit different. There’s one following just from behind. One tells a whole story (of a kid putting on his cleats, then going to play with friends and ending with a goal).”
MSM looked to six-time Emmy Award-winning editor Dan Marks to pull together the spots. He worked with Weinbach to cull through the Fifa archives for different highlights and different angles and reaction shots, not just the iconic moments. “We wanted iconic but cinematic moments,” said Weinbach.
“Having access to the Fifa archive was just unbelievable. They’re cool but intimidating – they have (cannister after cannister) of 35mm film – raw footage,” he said, adding that the amazing amount of films they could review allowed them to find rarer shots like one of Zidane “looking serious and competitive” and one of Maradonna in an opening lineup, “looking pensive. It’s just a shot we found.”
Fifa's James Reilly oversaw the project for the organization.
See the films by clicking on the Creative Works box below.