World’s best ads ever #84: BBC weaves a masterpiece for 2018 Fifa World Cup
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
Publicizing the Fifa World Cup in Russia to the soccer-mad UK might sound like an open goal, but as a national broadcaster, the BBC does face some challenges. Being the BBC, it has to be impartial between the home nations, it has to avoid any risk of controversy in its depictions of other national teams’ cultures, and the idea has to bear the weight of months’ worth of build-up and coverage.
In-house agency BBC Creative’s answer was to go big on the mythologizing power of the beautiful game. The 60-second launch trailer combines animation from London studio BlinkInk with footage of a custom-built loom creating legitimate tapestries with help from the London Embroidery Studio. 600 embroidered frames depict great moments from World Cups past: Bobby Moore at England’s 1966 win, Zinedine Zidane’s iconic 1966 header. It also depicts some of the prospective heroes of the World Cup to come.
227,000 meters of thread were used; if laid end-to-end, the tapestry would apparently be 1,200 meters long (a small sample of which was put on public display). The spot was directed by Nicos Livesey – quite possibly the only person in the world qualified for the job, having previously made an all-embroidery music video for his rock band Throne that clocked in at over four-and-a-half minutes.
Care of craft on the ad’s audio wasn’t any less detailed: the team first found a traditional folk song from Imperial Russia, Oche Cheryne, and commissioned a fresh arrangement from composer Alex Baranowski. The version you hear was performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, featuring the unforgettable bass of opera legend Sir John Tomlinson.
The ad’s strapline, ‘History will be made’, applies just as much to the ad as the competition itself, since a tapestry is rather more permanent than digital equivalents. As creative Ben Usher told The Drum in 2018: “You can do almost anything with CGI and it almost loses the joy of it because people go, ‘oh, it’s just CGI,’ and switch off. We’re hoping that what comes through is that we did it for real.”