Mars "Believe" World Cup Campaign
Back in the day, football couldn’t get arrested. It was the unacceptable face of working-class culture. Boorish, xenophobic and violent – and the fans were no better. Footballers were an ever-reliable source of fashion atrocity, with their love of steak and chips, Europop haircuts and blue-eyed soul. Back then, being a football fan was barely tolerated and certainly not encouraged. It was naff – a sure sign of low ambition, bad reading habits and lack of sexual sophistication. This was the 1980s where androgyny was considered chic, the NME read like a cultural studies dissertation and New Romantic dandies ruled the charts. The unfettered expression of blue-collar masculinity, red in tooth and claw, was every kind of wrong.
"Footballers were an ever-reliable source of fashion atrocity, with their love of steak and chips, Europop haircuts and blue-eyed soul."
Then came Heysel, Hillsborough, The Taylor Report and all-seater stadiums. Football’s rehabilitation, fuelled by more genteel, cerebral fans and Italia ’90 was embraced by all. Richer, slicker and a bigger pain in the balls than ever before, the national game was back and this time it was respectable.
It’s down to the repackaged product of football that we get campaigns like Mars "Believe". The company which spends its time burying its heart attack land mines into the nation’s diet has discovered that Yes! We Too Love Your English Soccer Or As You Say In London Football Guv’nor. They believe England will win the World Cup so much they’ve even changed the name of Mars to Believe. It’s an arresting sight – the multinational leviathan of chocolatey badness shouldering with little old England. Could this be the magic at last?
"These face-painted nobs gurning witlessly at the BBC cameras, predicting 4-0 scorelines against Brazil."
The campaign is an all-out assault on all fronts of the media – TV, press, radio, Internet, outdoor, direct mail, in-store point-of-sale and PR. Believe me, Rommel never prepared for a campaign this well.
The TV advert features a generic tubby England fan Bill Lever (gedditt????) singing "I believe that on July 9th in Berlin we will win". Really? Why? No other fucker does. The image of the permanently optimistic football fan persists – these face-painted nobs gurning witlessly at the BBC cameras, predicting 4-0 scorelines against Brazil. These people have so obviously never spent any time around real football fans – among the most downbeat, sardonic, bitter people you’ll ever meet.
"This is the kind of insulting drivel aimed at young men that gave us Zoo magazine (for those who felt Loaded a bit too highbrow). Yobbish, patronising and inane."
This is the kind of insulting drivel aimed at young men that gave us Zoo magazine (for those who felt Loaded a bit too highbrow). Yobbish, patronising and inane. The website is a slick, interactive affair encouraging you to "Add A Fan" to their spam e-mail list because the more you add "the more stunts we’ll pull, and the more prizes will give away". You’ll pull stunts? For us? Why Ambassador, with your sugary death bars you are spoiling us.
"With such inventive viral content they intend you to further infect the national consciousness with the Mars brand by forwarding it to your dummy mates in offices around the country."
The website even tells us how to believe in England – with a Believe Training Ground. The signs are there they say, giving photographic evidence: fish and chips in the shape of the World Cup . A cow in the shape of the World Cup. You see where they’re going with this? With such inventive viral content they intend for you to further infect the national consciousness with the Mars brand by forwarding it to your dummy mates in offices around the country. So you’re effectively doing Mars’ advertising for them – as an unpaid, unofficial street team.
It doesn’t matter how much market research they do, how sophisticated their people skills – they still can’t stop talking to football fans like they’re small children.
"It doesn’t matter how much market research they do, how sophisticated their people skills – they still can’t stop talking to football fans like they’re small children."
Aerial Telly does not support England. They’re not Aston Villa and they can therefore eat a dick along with every other damn team on the planet. But it takes a very strong stomach not to honk at this level of cynicism. Mars wants to associate itself with a winning product. It could not give two fucks about football and would happily urinate on 1966, the flag of St George and our war dead if it felt it could give them an even bigger slice of the confectionery pie
There’s nothing wrong with sponsorship, of course. It’s a necessary evil to give us lots of money to do the things we want to do. But at least when Budweiser sponsor English football they do it with some wit and above all they talk to you like you’re a grown-up. They acknowledge that this is all horseshit, that it’s all part of the game, that they don’t really get this football thing and that you’re only here for the beer.
"I’ll be drinking wine, supporting Argentina and getting head from your girlfriend."
That doesn’t apply to me of course. I’ll be drinking wine, supporting Argentina and getting head from your girlfriend as I’m writing about the new season of Deadwood while you watch England go out in the quarter-finals as a result of tactical ineptitude, dicey finishing and any number of questionable refereeing decisions.
Was it not ever thus?
The best thing about it: Apparently, you can win a telly.
The worst thing about it: The relentless, counterfeit enthusiasm.
The verdict on Mars Believe World Cup Campaign: A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play (at being a football fan until 9th July when you fuck off back to sponsoring the Super Bowl).
Marks out of 10: 2