Rolex, Nike use ads to lean into the UK’s love of athletics

By Lewis Boulton


London, United Kingdom


To eagle-eyed readers of these columns, you may have spotted a few patterns when it comes to the creatives I’ve showcased over the past three years.

Perhaps it’s the many community campaigns working to make our society a better place? Maybe it’s our rich culture of humour and wit that keep news brand advertising in the United Kingdom fresh, innovative, and disruptive?

These are both certainly true across a wide range of advertisers and campaigns. However, if I had to pick a particular content theme that often encapsulates both qualities, it would have to be the huge role our sporting culture plays in fun, immersive, and purpose-led advertising.

Indeed, you only have to look back at a few of my previous columns to see sport’s enormous presence in UK news brand ads, whether that’s the sports and sports-adjacent brands drumming up excitement or non-sporting advertisers using the occasion to speak to fans.

While I’ve talked about football before here, unmissable action takes place throughout the year across a plethora of different disciplines. With something for everyone, sports and non-sports brands alike are well-placed to put themselves at the heart of the action and align themselves with the causes and values that matter to readers.

Here are just a few ads heralding another exciting season of top sporting action.

Sky Sports

A usual suspect when it comes to big advertisers in news brands, Sky Sports has gone all out in 2024 to bring the tension, excitement, and drama of live sport to readers ahead of big crunch matches.

Whether it’s a look ahead to another exciting Formula One season or a nail-biting climax to the Premier League season, the campaigns encourage readers to soak up the atmosphere ahead of a momentous weekend of sport.


Sporting moments provide advertisers with a fantastic opportunity to place a well-timed tactical ad in news brands, as evidenced with brilliant creative supporting our Three Lions and Lionesses during recent international football championships.

Rolex’s ad is more subtle but no less atmospheric. As sponsors of the U.S. Masters Tournament, Rolex and its beautiful campaign takes shots from previous tournaments to soak readers in the weekend’s unique traditions and emotions at Augusta.

Royal Ascot

From two legs to four, this campaign from Royal Ascot doesn’t even need the horses to evoke the spirit of the weekend. Drawing on the event’s tendency for attracting the whole gamut of sartorial self-expression, this campaign calls on readers to unleash their “Ascot You” … even at the laundrette.

Aldi and Lidl

UK supermarkets have a long history of supporting our national teams, particularly our Olympians and Paralympians. Flying the flag with its sponsorship of both Team GB and ParalympicsGB, Aldi celebrates the best of British in its quality food, community schemes, and support of our great sporting talent.

Lidl is also getting behind an upcoming must-see tournament. As sponsors of the men’s European football championships in Germany, this digital ad offers young people the chance to be a match day mascot next to their footballing heroes.


Brands aren’t just encouraging readers to get behind our stars this summer.

Style and sports collide in this digital ad from Nike, which calls on readers to get fit in a fresh, new pair of Air Max trainers.

About Lewis Boulton

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