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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 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. 

The Best Sports Ads 2021

Coming soon...

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… 


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