World Cup

Fans around the globe watch the World Cup in sync, a new ESPN ad illustrates

This week, ESPN debuted the last commercial from its 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign. Titled “Time Zones,” the 60-second ad focuses on how soccer fans around the world function on one time zone during the World Cup.

The ad, developed in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, follows fans around the globe, to places such as a crowded pub in England; a social club in Ghana; a fishing boat off the coast of Valencia, Spain; a Russian apartment; a car heading to Tehran; a bar at dawn in Osaka, Japan; an office in Seattle; a family barbecue in Mexico; and a research station in the Andes.

Bryan McAleer (l), associate director of sports marketing at ESPN, made a cameo in a previous World Cup campaign spot, "Global Issues." (ESPN)
Bryan McAleer (l), associate director of sports marketing at ESPN – and a proud fan of the Netherlands – made a cameo in a previous World Cup campaign spot, “Global Issues.” (ESPN)

Front Row spoke with Bryan McAleer, associate director of sports marketing at ESPN, who traveled to Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira Favela – “favela” is a Brazilian term for slum – and several other locations for the spot, about his team’s inspiration for “Time Zones”:

How did you come up with idea for “Time Zones”?
The spot started with a simple insight: every four years, the world basically functions on one time zone: World Cup. No matter what time of day, no matter what the circumstances, fans will find a way to get in front of a screen to watch the match. It’s the only sport that the phrase “the whole world is watching” isn’t disingenuous or cliché. We wanted to show fans from around the world, different cultures, different situations all engaging in the same act, preparing to watch a big World Cup match, in their own unique ways.

What was your inspiration to film at the Mangueira Favela?
The location for the opening and closing shot was inspired by an earlier shoot in Brazil. We went to a rooftop in the Mangueira Favela on the eve of the 2013 Confederations Cup final to shoot the view of Maracana Stadium at night. The favela is perched above the stadium and from the vantage point you can nearly see the pitch inside.

I struck up a conversation with our fixer [or local liaison] Babao, who owned a bar in the neighborhood. He told me that while he and the rest of the Mangueira residents couldn’t afford to attend the match, they had the best seats in the country. During every big Brazil match at the Maracana, he and his neighbors would throw a huge party on their rooftops, with grills and TVs hauling up the narrow stairs. Babao also told us that best part was that they could hear the crowd singing from the stadium and that the entire favela would sing along with their countrymen inside.

Who were the people starring in the spot?
The spot features real people, real fans, and real scenes recreated. We asked folks to wear what they normally would if they were going to watch a game – for example, the gentleman standing in the Ghana scene is wearing an old jersey that was autographed by one of the Ghanaian players.

What are your favorite parts of the ad?
The last scene of the boy standing in awe, looking at the TV and at the stadium below him came from an incredible display of the Brazilian fans singing the country’s national anthem during the Confederations Cup game. The musical accompaniment for the anthem would end, yet the crowd would continue to sing, a truly powerful and moving scene. We wanted to convey the power of that moment up on that rooftop and what it may be like on July 13 should Brazil be playing in the final.

AdWeek reviews “Time Zones”

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