It's never too early to start thinking about the World Cup, just 15 months away.
In a charming new McDonald's spot full of joy and camaraderie, a group of Latino guys are happily playing a hard-fought soccer game at night on a dimly-lit hard dirt court. The only illumination appears to be the tiny, shimmering sparkles of lights from nearby hills that form a breathtaking backdrop to the soccer game.
The court suddenly goes dark, right before the critical game shot is about to be taken, and the men call out for just one more minute. After the light flashes back on and the game finally ends, we see the field has been lit by a McDonald's sign in the adjacent parking lot.
The commercial by Omnicom Group's Alma was shot twice, once entirely in Spanish and again mostly in English with a mix of Spanish, and will run on both Spanish and English-language TV.
McDonald's likes to say that its marketing strategy leads with multicultural insights, and Hispanic shop Alma often does work that runs in all markets -- including outside the U.S.
The commercial, called "Cancha" in Spanish and "Match" in English, was an idea Alma had last year and sold to McDonald's in advance of any soccer-related initiatives McDonald's, a sponsor of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, may do later.
"It talks about the magic of McDonald's in our lives, less from a sponsorship mindset and more as a branding initiative," said Luis Miguel Messianu, Alma's president and chief creative officer. "It's so grassroots and so Latin, but also a universal idea. Other markets are starting to request it, so I think it'll be a global spot."
The spot, believed to be the first work well-known director Tarsem Singh has done in the U.S. Hispanic market, was shot outside Mexico City, in a tough neighborhood where the production was given military protection.
Repeat viewers of the commercial may notice the soccer player yelling "Un minuto, Marquito" is addressing the unseen McDonald's employee who switched off the sign for the night, and then turns it back on for a minute to light up the last play. Trying to think of a name for the offstage character, Mr. Messianu chose Marcos (Marquito is a friendly nickname for Marcos) because in Spanish the Golden Arches are called Arcos Dorados.
"People will enjoy watching it until the World Cup," Mr. Messianu said.