We talked to filmmaker and photographer Lily Colfox about her most recent collaboration with Todd Speakerman from ELIDI in providing music to soundtrack her documentary telling the stories of dancers in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.
THE BEST SPORTS ADS EVER
- 22 Jan
Some of the best adverts ever are sports ads – they always pack a punch (pun intended). They also play with a viewer’s emotions, highlight important topics of discussion and unite global audiences. Oh, and more often than not they feature welcome appearances from lionised athletes, actors, artists and others in the public eye.
For example, who can forget McDonald’s Mike VS Larry advert which sees the two b-ball legends go head-to-head for a Big Mac? Or Nike’s controversial Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ ad that aimed to open up a conversation on diversity in the sporting world?
And what’s a vital part of great sports ads? The music they use. So as we take you through our list, we’ll also be looking at the music choices.
The Best Sports Ads Ever
1. Nike – ‘For Warriors’
Guaranteed to get your heart racing, Nike’s 2005 For Warriors ad – starring the likes of baseball’s Albert Pujols and American football’s Brian Urlacher – is a masterclass in sports advertising. And although the featured song (rock band Cop Shoot Cop’s Migration) isn’t the easiest to listen to, we must admit, it does work well with the commercials off-beat visuals.
2. McDonalds – ‘Showdown’
McDonald’s Larry Bird vs Michael Jordan ad, formally known as Showdown, captures the fun-loving zeitgeist of the 90s – which is why it’s considered one of the best sport advertisements. Aptly, the sport-centric commercial features an exuberant hip-hop-inspired background music track that helps to further encapsulate the era.
3. Nike – ‘The Conductor’
Nike’s The Conductor ad is humorous, purposeful and stars the people’s hero, Kobe Bryant – just three reasons why it’s one of the best sports adverts ever. Plus, the song, sung by the ‘haters’ in the commercial, sounds to be inspired by soul music, one of our favourite genres.
4. Coca Cola – ‘Hey Kid, Catch’
Coca Cola’s 1979 advert Hey Kid, Catch ‘proves’ that the soft drink can lift anyone’s spirit – even ‘Mean’ Joe Greene’s. The catchy, upbeat song used in the ad feels very 70s and features the lyrics, ‘a Coke and a smile makes me feel good’.
5. Gatorade – ‘Be Like Mike’
A young, high-spirited Michael Jordan is the focus of Gatorade’s 1992 commercial titled Be Like Mike. The memorable music that runs throughout the minute-long commercial kicks off with a tribal beat and sports-inspired whistle, and later features a range of different vocals.
6. Adidas Originals – ‘Change Is A Team Sport’
For Change is a Team Sport, Adidas recruited the likes of Pharrell Williams, Blondey, Jonah Hill and Jackson Wang for an uber-stylish commercial that encourages viewers to work as a team. The piano-led track that accompanies the visuals are fittingly perky and animated, which helps add to the zany world the three stripes is trying to create.
7. Nike Football – ‘The Last Game’
Created for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Nike Football’s The Last Game commercial is one of the first ads that come to mind when discussing the best sports ads ever. The Swoosh commercial stars a slew of professional football players brought to life in animation form (from Rooney to Neymar) and uses an array of different music styles, from techno to epic orchestral music.
8. Under Armour – ‘Will Makes Us Family’
Sports unites people across the globe and reminds us all that we are one. Under Armour’s 2018 advert titled Will Makes Us Family effectively does this by editing together clips of different athletes from the four corners of the world – including professional boxer Anthony Joshua. But what ties the advert together? Music, of course. Gene Allison’s classic R&B track You Can Make It If You Try, to be exact.
9. Nationwide – ‘Holiday Jingle’
Nationwide’s short but sweet Christmas commercial puts American football quarterback Peyton Manning at the forefront and centre. The funny ad – commonly recognised as one of the best sport advertisements ever– uses an upbeat festive track to emphasise its wacky holiday vibe.
10. P&G – ‘Thank You, Mom/Strong’
P&G’s ad for the Rio 2016 Olympics looks to the generation above the athletes. The result is a touching campaign that reminds us of our own relationships with our mothers, aided by a track that’s concurrently grand, delicate and emotional.
11. NBA – ‘It’s A Whole New Game’
To help fuel hype around 2020’s NBA Restart, the basketball association enlisted the help of woman-of-the-moment Issa Rae. Needless to say, the commercial is an absolute joy to watch and the percussion-heavy track that plays throughout the ad only makes things more exciting.
12. Duracell – ‘Trust Your Power’
Duracell tells the inspiring story of deaf athlete Derrick Coleman in their 2014 Super Bowl ad. The running back for the Seattle Seahawks had a tough childhood and struggled to be taken seriously as an athlete, because of his disability. Now, Coleman looks back on his dedication to sport and is over the moon that he never gave up. Aptly, the music chosen for the ad is dramatic and arcane, which only strengthens the narrative’s themes.
13. Sky Sports – ‘Sky Difference’
Sky, Stevie Wonder and six David Beckhams prove to be a stellar combination in Sky Difference: an ad that boasts about Sky’s cross-device synergy. Wonder’s legendary hit For Once In My Life plays throughout the ad as Beckham watches live sport on his phone, tablet, laptop and more.
14. Lucozade Sport – ‘The Lionesses’
Lucozade Sport celebrates female footballers, both amateur and professional, in The Lionesses. The composition that plays in the background of the athletic ad reminds us to always remain focused, determined and aspirational.
15. BT Sports - ‘Being Dele’
BT Sports’ 2017 ad imagines footballer Dele Alli playing a slew of sports against some of the best athletes in the world. For example, the England midfield player can be seen competing against Anthony Yarde in the WBO, Draymond Green in the NBA and Joanna Jędrzejczyk in the UFC. The song that helps define the sports advert is the zippy Soy Yo by electro-cumbia group Bomba Estéreo.
16. Nike Football – ‘Take It To The Next Level’
For Euro 2008, British director Guy Ritchie created a Nike Football ad that puts the viewer in the footballer’s Swoosh-adorned shoes. Talk about making dreams come true! The uptempo rock track that plays throughout the commercial further adds to the idea that footballers are the new rockstars of today.
17. Converse – ‘NBA Stars’
Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Bernard King, Larry Bird and Mark Aguirre are the All-Stars team asked to help Converse advertise their Weapon silhouette back in 1986. Available in team colours, the advert showcases the shoe and its range of colourways through a clever rap performed by the b-ball players.
18. Adidas China – ‘One in a Billion’
Adidas China’s 2017 ad One In A Billion is a celebration of individuality. The commercial – featuring a guest appearance from David Beckham – is intelligent, easy to follow and visually stunning, which helps the sportswear brand communicate an important message. Plus, it features a quirky uptempo track that’s a joy to listen to.
19. Reebok – ‘Terry Tate: Officer Linebacker’
Reebok’s collection of Terry Tate ads from the early 2000s live in our minds, rent-free. They’re, quite simply, hilarious. And although the ad doesn’t rely on background music (a decision that helps add to the passionless vibe of the office setting), there are plenty of sound effects to be heard.
20. Nike – ‘Just Do It ft Colin Kaepernick’
Nike famously supported polarising sports player-cum-activist Colin Kaepernick after he refused to stand for the national anthem back in 2018, to make a stand against racial injustice. The TV ad is designed to make inequality and diversity topics of discussion in every household, workplace and community across the world and the soft piano music that can be heard throughout the commercial only helps emphasise the beauty of Kaepernick’s message.
21. Adidas – ‘Ready for Sport’
Adidas’ 2020 athletic ad ‘Ready for Sport’ is nothing less than inspiring. Released during the summer of the pandemic, the sports commercial reminds viewers to stay positive during impossible times as things will always get better. And although the sci-fi x hip-hop track may sound a little eccentric at first, there’s no denying that it is perfect for the advert.
22. Air Jordan – ‘It’s Gotta Be The Shoes’
There’s Michael Jordan shooting hoops; there’s Spike Lee as Mars Blackmon from She’s Gotta Have It (1986); there are multiple pairs of Jordans; and, last but not least, there’s a super-groovy background music track. If you don’t consider this one of the best sports ads ever, we kindly suggest you get yourself checked out.
23. Nike – ‘Airport’
Considered by many as the greatest sports adverts ever, Airport is the Swoosh’s 1998 World Cup Brazil commercial that sees the Brazilian football squad play football at, you guessed it, an airport. Recognise the song in the background? That’s Tamba Trio’s take on the well-known samba hit ‘Mas Que Nada’.
24. Pepsi MAX – ‘Field of Dreams’
Adored by baseball fans and film nerds alike, Field of Dreams (1989) is an indisputable classic – and so is the 1995 Pepsi commercial inspired by it. Playful and witty, the advert is one that we’ll forever remember – partially because of the magical, mysterious song that plays beginning to end.
25. Converse – ‘Grandmama’
Mark our words, Converse’s 90s Grandmama sports ads – starring basketball player Larry Johnson in the titular role – will never grow old. They still make us crave a pair of hi-top Converse now! And each short ad is matched with a sporadic jazz track that further emphasises the commercial’s comical tone; tracks that, as you can probably tell, we’re huge fans of.
Music For Your Sports Adverts
Looking for fantastic tracks for sports ads? Our huge catalogue of high quality, original music has everything you need. Explore playlists (updated every fortnight), with everything from sports anthems to countdown clocks, moments of high drama to beautiful emotions.
Learn more about the inequalities within music, film and TV and the women who are trailblazing their way in these industries nonetheless.
From Salt-n-Pepa to Cardi B, we take a look at some of the trailblazers who've carved a name for women in the hip hop game