As the countdown continues to the start 2014 FIFA World Cup in June, ESPN recently debuted a unique new ad that celebrates one of the most ardent supporter groups for the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT), the American Outlaws.
Titled “I Believe,” the 60-second spot (see above) features the passion and enthusiasm among members of the American Outlaws as they chant the two words. It’s an anthem that captures the feeling among the U.S. team’s fans, who remain confident in the team’s chances despite its draw into the “Group of Death” (versus Ghana, Portugal and Germany). The organization, based in Lincoln, Neb., started in 2007 and boasts in excess of 18,000 members, spanning more than 120 chapters.
For the campaign, ESPN’s marketing team spent two days embedded with the group in Columbus, Ohio to film the fans during the last USA-Mexico FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Sept. 10, 2013 – the match that qualified USMNT for the World Cup this summer in Brazil.
According to Bryan McAleer, associate director of sports marketing at ESPN, the concept for the spot came to mind last year during his trip to Mexico City, when he followed the organization during a game at Estadio Azteca for an article on the American Outlaws he wrote for ESPNFC.com.
“Our goal was to flip the camera around from the field to the stands to show an authentic inside documentary look at what is like to be an American Outlaw,” McAleer said.
“I loved the ad, it was a really good and accurate portrayal of what a big game is like in the supporters section and of what being an American Outlaw member at a game is like,” said Korey Donahoo, president and one of the founders of the American Outlaws.
Scenes of the fans marching to the match “really gives me chills every time I see it,” he said. “The march is something that we do for every game, which is we have a pre-game party and then we march all together to the stadium. That march [featured in the spot] was probably the biggest one we’ve ever had and it looked awesome.”
Donahoo said that the organization will be taking more than 530 group members from 47 different U.S. states to Brazil in two big charted airplanes.
“I loved seeing the people who have different chapters on the back of their jerseys [in the ad]. It showed people coming together from all over the country and repping their hometowns,” said Donahoo. “The spot caught a lot of the guys up close who have been around [the organization] since Day One.”