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BEST SPORTS ADS 2021

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The best sports ads are cinematic and powerful. They make you want to get fit, active and involved – even if you haven’t held a racket, bounced a ball or seen the inside of a gym since your school days. How? With a little help from some energetic, inspiring music. 

Here, we take a look at the best sports commercials of 2020, analysing their use of music as we go along, whilst we wait to see what sports advertisements this year brings us… 

Best Sports Ads 2021 

The best sports ads are cinematic and powerful. They make you want to get fit, active and involved – even if you havent held a racket, bounced a ball or seen the inside of a gym since your school days. How? With a little help from some energetic, inspiring music. 

Here, we take a look at the best sports commercials of 2021, analysing their use of music as we go along, as well as exploring the 10 best ads from the year before.

Best Sports Ads 2021 (So far!)

1. Nike – 'Play New'

Nikes Play New advert (released in June 2021) reminds audiences that footballs an inclusive sport and Nike is an inclusive brand. Within the commercial, people of all races, genders, sexualities and religions – including Marcus Rashford, Pernille Harder and Richarlison de Andrade – harmoniously participate in the sport together on pitches across the globe.

For their Play New ad, Nike opted for a contemporary remix of Blurs ‘Parklife’, a mid-90s Britpop/indie rock track thats often associated with staunch football fans. 

2. Adidas – 'Impossible is Nothing – Mohamed Salah'

In spring 2021, Adidas brought their Impossible is Nothing’ tagline back and recruited the likes of Beyoncé, Cyrill Gutsch, Tiffany Abreu and Mohamed Salah to push the campaign. Salahs ad begins in his hometown of Nagrig, Egypt, and subsequently works through several clips of the star player on the pitch. In just 30 seconds, the audience becomes better acquainted with the heroic football player – a man who constantly reminds his fans to stay true to themselves.

The Arabic-inspired music Adidas picked for the Mohamed Salah commercial is inspired by the players North African heritage. Explore our playlist of Arabic/Middle Eastern music for similar tracks. 

3. Adidas - Honoring Black Excellence

During US Black History Month in February 2021, Adidas launched, 'Honoring Black Excellence', their year-long intiative which aims to;

  • Provide under-served youth with access to skill development, mentorship and sport resources.
  • Create visibility by using their brand platforms to hero the stories of changemakers striving to make a positive impact in their communities.
  • Hold theirselves accountable to shape a more inclusive narrative.

As part of this initiative, Adidas is honoring different athletes from a variety of sports throughout the year, starting with the likes of; Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Etop Udo-Ema and Kelli Stewart, to name a few. These videos use Audio Network music which drives home the purpose of Adidas' initiative, evoking that same sense of strength, resilience and excellence which these athletes have displayed in their careers.

Audio Network are proud to be able to work with Adidas to provide the best tracks for this series, in the below video you'll hear esteemed NYC producer, Kelly Mac's, 'Enter The Stage'

4. William Hill – 'Let The Good Times Roll'

William Hills Let The Good Times Roll commercial places focus on the sports fans instead of the players. Throughout the ad, groups of fans celebrate the spring/summer sports season by cheering, chanting and even participating in matches. 

Over the years, Neil Diamonds Sweet Caroline has become a part of English sports culture – its a good luck charm of sorts sung by the fans to the players. William Hill used the song to establish a relationship with England fans just before the Euro 2020 tournament kicked off.

5. Betfair – 'Because We’re Betfair'

Another gambling company that released a commercial to celebrate the UEFA Euro 2020 championship is Betfair. Set in a snowy landscape, the commercial informs viewers – using an animated mammoth, of course – that they can cash out at any time as betters wont be frozen out during Euros season. 

The song used in the Betfair ad is Fatboy Slims ‘Right Here, Right Now’, keeping the narrative moving with its uptempo, dance rhythm.

6. Sports Direct – 'Just A Game?!'

Sports Direct focus on the idea that football is the glue that brings individuals and communities together. Ex-Manchester United legend Eric Cantona guides viewers through the ad, decoding the spirit of the sport whilst travelling from match to match across the nation. Other football superstars Sports Direct secured for this project include Jack Grealish, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.

The song Sports Direct selected for their Just A Game?! ad is ‘Cant Catch Me’ by NoMBe, featuring New Mystics. The track has a unique rock’n’roll-meets-soul sound that helps drive the commercial: its fun, upbeat and gives the football-focused ad a touch more character. 

7. FIFA 21 – 'Inspiring The Next Generation of Footballers'

To push their FIFA 21 video game, EA Sports produced a commercial titled Inspiring The Next Generation of Footballers: a television ad that represents the British Asian population. The ad focuses on a young, British Muslim amateur player who continues to play football for his team, and with his little sister, during Ramadan.

The music that plays throughout the ad is inspired by the young players Islamic background – it constantly brings viewers back to the message of the commercial. 

8. Pepsi Max – 'Fizz To Life'

In February 2021, Pepsi was keen for football fans to associate their soft beverage, Pepsi Max, with the sport – most likely because they knew the Euros were set to be a huge deal later in the year. To establish a connection, the American-based company enlisted the help of star players Paul Pogba, Shanice Van De Sanden, Jadon Sancho and Lionel Messi. 

The music used within the commercial is a custom track titled ‘Rotate’ by Mexican-American reggaeton singer Becky G and Afro-pop/hip hop singer Burna Boy. While on the subject of African music, please feel free to check out our World Lifestyle Series: Africa playlist featuring 20 tracks produced by world-renowned musicians.

9. BBC Sport – 'Wimbledon 2021'

To promote their coverage of the tennis tournament Wimbledon 2021, BBC Sport created a commercial by taking iconic Wimbledon clips and editing them in time with CeCe Penistons ‘Finally’. Impressively, the broadcasting company successfully captures the electrifying energy of the sporting event within the 30-second ad. 

Not only does the song bring a lively vibe to the commercial, but it also highlights the sense of anticipation surrounding the tournament, following 2020s COVID-related hiatus.

10. Rolex – ‘#Perpetual’

Rolex is the official timekeeper of Wimbledon – hence, the luxury watch manufacturer shares a special connection with the tennis tournament. To draw attention to this relationship, Rolex produced a commercial for Wimbledon 2021 starring Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. The ad draws comparisons between Rolex watches, the crème de la crème of wristwear, and Federer, the crème de la crème of the tennis scene.

The orchestral music that plays in the background replicates the image Rolex wish to portray – one of elegance, sophistication and timelessness. Head on over to our Classical Collection to discover similar tracks for your next project.

11. BBC – 'Our Wait is Over'

Alongside Wimbledon, the BBC also aired the Euro 2020 matches. To ensure their Euro 2020 ad stood out from the crowd, the BBC turned to the medium of animation. The result was a humorous, minute-long cartoon that imagines world-renowned football players patiently waiting for the tournament to begin within the space of a waiting room. Fittingly, the ad was entitled Our Wait is Over. 

As mentioned above, the commercial is set in the kind of waiting room viewers expect to see in films and television shows. To reflect that, the ad opts for a soundtrack thats redolent of lift music

12. ITV – 'The Good Times Start Here'

ITV also aired the Euro 2020 matches, and to lure fans away from the BBC the British TV company recruited national treasure Ian Wright to star in their commercial. Vibrant cartoons add colour to the black and white setting, suggesting that the Euros are arriving just in time to lift the spirits of a population that experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.

ITV uses hip hop track ‘Don’ by rapper Ocean Wisdom, a fast-paced track that marries helps keep things interesting throughout the full 40 seconds. Check out our selection of sport hip hop tracks here at Audio Network.

13. BBC – 'Tokyo 2020 Olympics'

Now that Wimbledon and the Euros are over, sporting fans are anticipating the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. To build anticipation around the games, the BBC produced a commercial thats a love letter to Japanese culture. 

The Japanese-inspired music track used in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics perfectly complements the commercials visuals. Check out our Sounds of Japan page for further inspiration.

14. France.tv – 'Sumo – Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games'

Inspired by the games’ Tokyo setting, France.tv’s Olympic ad centres around a sumo wrestler who makes his way through a traditional Japanese landscape before touching down inside Tokyos Olympic stadium.

Fittingly, the music that plays throughout the course of France.tvs minute-long ad is also inspired by traditional Japanese culture; by combining pounding drums, delicate woodwinds and vocal grunts, the viewer is left anticipating the wrestlers next move. 

15. Nike – 'Lose Count – Stronger Than One'

The final 2021 sports ad on our list is arguably the strongest one so far – predictably, its another ad from sportswear giant Nike. The Lose Count Stronger Than One commercial was released at the beginning of February to push, once more, for equality in sports. In particular, the commercial focuses on a team of female American flag football players who prove that theyre just as tough, determined and motivated as their male counterparts. The advert ends with Nike announcing that theyve teamed up with the NFL to donate $5 million to ensure every high school in America has a girls flag football team. 

For the best part of the ad, the high-spirited sounds of marching drums and horns play, transporting the viewer into the middle of an American football crowd.

Best Sports Ads 2020

1. Nike – ‘One Day We Won’t Need This Day’

Nike’s One Day We Won’t Need This Day advert was released last March on International Women’s Day. The commercial stars some of the most influential female athletes in the world, including Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe, and looks forward towards a brighter future in which equality is the norm.

The rousing, string-heavy track that accompanies the female-led advert prompts viewers to consider what’s being said by the narrator, and how it should be embraced. The music’s pace remains consistent and never distracts the viewer from the valuable message. 

2. Adidas Originals – ‘Change Is A Team Sport’

To help bring the classic Superstar sneaker silhouette (first dropped in 1969) into the new decade, Adidas Originals released their Change is A Team Sport advert in January 2020. Featuring the likes of Jackson Wang, Pharrell Williams and Paul Pogba, and narrated by Jonah Hill, the advert follows pro-skateboarder Jenn Soto on her journey from unboxing her Superstars to using them at an indoor skatepark. Inspired by inclusivity, Adidas flaunts a 2020 team of innovators who represent the creative world of the sportswear brand. 

The piano-led music that Adidas picked for this advert is joyful and aims to support the positive message communicated on screen. It’s the type of song redolent of Wes Anderson films (which makes sense, considering the visuals are very Anderson-esque) and bright, zippy animations

3. Under Armour – ‘The Only Way Is Through’

Under Armour’s The Only Way Is Through, starring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, feels like a classic sports commercial; it focuses on athletes applying the pressure. It reminds both professional and amateur sports players that results are only achieved through hard work, no matter your goals or sport(s).  

Accordingly, the background music slowly works its way up into something intense, dramatic and electronic. And then, as soon as the advert title appears and the fast-paced sports clips begin to play, the beat kicks in and demands the audience’s attention.

4. Nike – ‘You Can’t Stop Us’

The second Nike advert to make it to our list of best sports commercials is the You Can’t Stop Us ad of summer 2020. It shows the true face of sports; the highs and the lows of the industry; the raw emotions of the athletes across the world. And, most importantly of all, it shows the passion we all have to succeed, in terms of sports, tackling the pandemic and making the world a better place. 

Appropriately, the advert features music that stimulates the mind. It encompasses the determination of the sports players and their enthusiasm for sport. 

5. Adidas – ‘Ready for Sport’

Adidas also released an advert last summer that acknowledged the pandemic. And just like the aforementioned Nike advert, this commercial aims to remind viewers that things are going to get better. 

The music used in the advert is unorthodox for a sports commercial as it merges two contrasting genres – a hip-hop beat layered upon a cinematic sci-fi track. The composition makes sense for a sports advert that aims to inspire hope on an epic level. 

6. Sports Direct – ‘Sports Starts Here’

Fact: Sports Direct produced one of the best sports adverts of 2020. The Christmas commercial brings the world of British sports to life through fast-paced, humorous and slightly surreal scenes. 

Throughout the advert, there’s a steady percussion beat that helps tie the individual scenes together. The sports ad also relies on sound effects to tell the story; viewers will be able to hear everything from a crowd cheering to the swing of a golf club in the background of the commercial. 

7. JD – ‘#JDWonderland’ 

Another sports store that made an impact with its 2020 Christmas commercial is JD. For their festive ad, JD recruited the likes of Anthony Joshua, AJ Tracey and Aitch to invite new and loyal customers to shop their range of sportswear. 

For this advert, JD opted for a track that starts with woodwinds, strings and a festive vibe. Naturally, with this being a JD advert, the track soon turns into something that feels current, youthful and appropriate for the target audience.

8. NBA Restart – ‘It’s A Whole New Game’

We’ll watch anything starring Issa Rae on repeat, even if it is an NBA advert. The comedian-cum-actress was enlisted to help introduce NBA Restart: a brand-new season that promised to introduce a ‘whole new game’ of basketball. Throughout the sports advert, Rae can be seen edited into old NBA clips in a way that makes an audience laugh and reminds them of the excitement a basketball match brings.

The advert uses an upbeat composition to help drive the narrative. The chosen song captures the spirit and atmosphere of a basketball game.

9. Gillette – ‘Made of What Matters’

Gillette's sports-focused advert – titled ‘Made of What Matters’ – pivots around footballer Raheem Sterling and his heartfelt message to young athletes. Sterling instructs viewers to ‘prove the doubters wrong’ by showing them what they’re made of on the football pitch. (DISCLAIMER: this advert is conflict-free.)

As the advert touches on discrimination and equality, Gillette required a track that didn’t undermine the advert’s crucial message. Thus, the razor company uses a track that’s soft, slow and compelling. 

10. Sky Sports – ‘I Am Sport’

The last ad to make it to our list of best sport commercials is Sky Sports’ I Am Sport. The soft-spoken narrator personifies sport and reminds the audience that there is no sport without people and, therefore, we should all enjoy spending time at home, as there’s nothing to miss! It’s humble, relatable and real. 

The music used in this Sky ad is warm and folky, which feels appropriate for a commercial that’s reaching out to the sports community and reminding them that each and every individual is appreciated. 

Music For Your New Sports Advertisements 2021

As you can tell from the commercials above, the type of music a producer requires for a sports advert will largely depend on the ad’s mood and narrative. Albeit, if you’re looking for a track that’s archetypal of sports ads for your new sports advertisements, you can discover our page dedicated to Background Music for Sports. Alternatively, you can check out our Editor’s Toolkit. Who knows, perhaps you’ll make it to our list of the best sports ads at the end of 2021… 

This page was originally published 13/01/2021 and updated 27/07/2021


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