When the U.S. did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, longtime U.S. Soccer and MLS sponsor Continental Tire had the opportunity to reflect on its soccer campaign for 2018. Rather than concentrate solely on one team or group—in this year’s case, the U.S. men—Continental took the opportunity to step back and focus on the bigger picture: the American soccer story is larger than a single team or World Cup cycle.
Continental was ready to tell that story.
As Continental’s creative and experiential agency, rEvolution quickly realized that by not making creative intended to air during the month-long World Cup, we would have the flexibility to produce more content with fewer boundaries. Resources and subject matter could be stretched further, and people could be showcased —some globally famous and others virtually unknown—to tell their American soccer stories.
Continental and rEvolution are soccer fans. We know the sport and its supporters. From a tactical standpoint, we recognize that content associated with the property in which you’re advertising resonates about 3:1 over traditional brand spots, but our campaign was driven by sharing stories that soccer fans actually want to hear.
Continental has spent many years activating around soccer, and in that time, has earned its spot at the table among true soccer brands. On-site is distributed a Continental premium that’s probably the coolest giveaway of any brand in the MLS or U.S. Soccer: the scarf. Continental is featured in stadium on the end boards, on screen sponsoring the clock wrap, as well as in post-game coverage, in addition to being a major part of every commercial break.
Continental’s constant presence in the sport has built awareness over the years. Following our creative with Alexi Lalas, it was time to produce spots that took a deeper dive specific to the platform. That meant it was time to build affinity while featuring more product.
So what makes soccer in the States different from overseas? In America, being in a car and driving is a big part of playing and experiencing soccer. Whether taking your kids to practice, games and tournaments, participating in an adult league or going to watch the pros, soccer and driving go hand in hand.
A majority of my weekends are spent driving to my kids’ games and tournaments; and those drives are such an important part of my relationship with my family (as it is with families all over America). It doesn’t matter if you’ve made a World Cup roster, joined pickup games on Sundays or are just a huge fan— the soccer experience is the same nationwide.
Keeping this in mind, we assembled a roster of interesting personalities and opened them up to discuss their soccer experiences:
• Clint Dempsey
• Tobin Heath
• Chicago Fire super fan Nicole Hack
• The American Outlaws
• Sean Johnson
The result was a series of five 30-second TV spots and five long-form digital spots that tell where the American soccer experience has been and where it’s going through the eyes of our subjects. We wanted to tell the stories in an authentic way, while highlighting the product. The fact that Clint Dempsey and his family love the final piece and Tobin feels good about being in these spots shows that we got it right. We’ve seen so many times in which athletes or soccer players are put in a position where they have to do something really corny and/or where it doesn’t feel good. This is not what we wanted to do.
This campaign was different. It had to feel real.
By design, these look and feel different compared to the spots that book end them during a commercial break because they disrupt the pace and feel of the block. If fans recall that they saw Continental during the game on the end boards and through in-game sponsorships, great. But even if they don’t, the way we purposely edited with tone and color correction will grasp viewers’ attention during that commercial break. As fans ourselves, we would love to see them during games and online.
American soccer is stronger and deeper than any one World Cup cycle. The stories that make up the American soccer experience are diverse but have key common, connecting factors. Driving from city to city and state to state to play, watch and experience this sport unites all of our soccer experiences—from international rosters to youth leagues.
In this year’s campaign, we are proud to tell those stories.