By Barry Janoff
January 1, 2014: NFL fans may be welcoming in 2014 with the playoffs and Super Bowl XLVIII, and followers of the Olympics are anticipating the Winter Games next month, but soccer loyalists are looking forward to June, when the the 2014 FIFA World Cup hits the pitch.
With some six months until the World Cup in Brazil, lead U.S. broadcast partner ESPN has unveiled the first commercial in a multi-platform campaign to support its coverage. The anthem spot comes with the tag line, "One Game Changes Everything," which will be part of ESPN's soccer mantra as more creative rolls out up to and through the games in Brazil.
The 60-second spot broke on New Year's Day during ESPN's presentation of the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio. A 90-second spot broke on YouTube.
ESPN is the exclusive U.S. English-language rights holder for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will run from June 12-July 13.
The premiere ad celebrates host Brazil and the history of the sport, with action shots of such iconic athletes as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Carlos Alberto and Landon Donovan.
The spot culminates with some of the current stars who will be part of the World Cup this summer, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli, Robin van Persie, and Neymar.
On-field action is interspersed with shots of Brazilians preparing for the arrival of the World Cup. Brazil also will be the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Among the legendary players and events in the anthem spot:
• Pele and his triumphant celebration in 1970.
• Germany's Franz Beckenbauer and Dutch captain Johan Cruyff exchanging flags before the 1974 Final.
• Diego Maradona's performance for Argentina in 1986.
• Zinedine Zidane leading host France to the World Cup title in 1998.
• Andres Iniesta's goal, which in 2010 sealed Spain’s first World Cup title.
• Cameroonian striker Roger Milla’s famous dance in 1990.
• England striker Geoff Hurst’s record three-goal performance in the 1966 World Cup title match.
• Landon Donovan’s celebration after his game-winning goal against Algeria in 2010.