What a difference a year makes. This time last summer, I penned a blog post about the English men’s national football team’s extraordinary European championship run — the squad making the final while news brands and advertisers rode the wave of excitement and pride sweeping the nation.
How our footballing heroes faced defeat with dignity and grace was appreciated by the overwhelming majority of us. But this year, it finally came home.
English women’s football has had a rollercoaster history. Wildly popular in the early twentieth century, official women’s football was banned by the Football Association so as not to threaten the men’s game. Decimated by the time the ban was lifted in 1971, players have had to deal with discrimination, having to pay for the privilege of playing as well as juggling everyday lives alongside their footballing careers.
However, with the women’s game finally starting to achieve the recognition and professionalisation it deserves, there was enormous hope for Euro 2022. And England’s team delivered.
In many ways, the tournament was a fairy tale. England waltzed through the group stages and beat Spain and Sweden to make the final game. Of course, our final opponents had to be our biggest rival: Germany. A true psychological test, both sexes have fallen agonisingly short against the German team in the past.
But this time, in extra time, Chloe Kelly scored the goal that gave England its first major trophy since the men’s famous home World Cup win in 1966. The country went absolutely bonkers.
All this is important context through which to view brands’ responses to England’s triumph. The growth of women’s football in England after its ban, the more than 50 “years of hurt” without a trophy, the deep love for the game — football is an intrinsic part of our national culture. Moments like these provide advertisers with an opportunity to authentically align themselves with the mood of the nation.
The outpouring of love was huge, so here are just a few of the best responses to England’s footballing triumph.
The crisp manufacturer is synonymous with football. It is a former sponsor of Leicester City and is fronted by ex-England striker Gary Lineker in its advertising campaigns. However, this ad doesn’t even need to mention the game to communicate its message: Victory never tasted so good.
As I mentioned last year, “It’s coming home” is the unofficial motto of English football. It’s a semi-ironic but earnest hope that one day championship glory will return. Leading a group of ads on the same theme is Nike, which listed every member of the squad that helped make football’s homeward return possible.
This longer-form ode to England’s victory verbalises much of the mood of the nation, describing our pride and gratitude to our team in achieving something that had never been achieved before.
Just because the profile of women’s football has skyrocketed doesn’t mean it no longer faces prejudice. But after this tournament, the idea that no one watches it can be firmly put to bed — as this ad from telecom’s network EE shows.
The cereal connoisseur created two ads to mark the tournament and both are loyal to Weetabix’s brand identity in different ways. The first goes with the product itself on final day, while the second is a take on its famous slogan the day after.
When it comes to showing brand identity, sometimes actions speak louder than words. Dettol’s does just that, wiping away the unfulfilled hope of millions of fans and leaving it with an indisputable fact: It’s home.