The European Champions League is soccer's biggest competition after the FIFA World Cup. Every year Europe's most successful clubs – where the top global players come together – compete for the trophy, which Heineken has sponsored since 2005.
With the tournament kicking off this week, Heineken is launching a blockbuster ad by Publicis Italy with a global theme. The spot stars charismatic and sometimes controversial soccer manager Jose Mourinho, who has won the trophy twice with two different clubs and currently manages the world's most profitable team, Manchester United.
(Manchester United didn't even make it into the Champions League this year, which is why Mr. Mourinho was hired to sort them out.)
The ad shows Mr. Mourinho standing on a penthouse terrace on a dark and stormy night shouting a motivational speech across a city's rooftops, challenging fans around the world to prepare for game night. He talks about "determination and sacrifice" and declares, "When the trumpet of destiny blows in your ears, you must respond with courage."
After all the hyperbole, Mr. Mourinho walks back into his apartment. He is wearing slippers and is followed by his fluffy white pooch.
Anuraag Trikha, Heineken's global brand communications director, told Ad Age, "We chose Jose Mourinho because he can motivate any team. He can go into any league and win it. And he has an edge – you can love him or hate him but you have to respect him. He takes what he does seriously, but he doesn't take himself too seriously."
As the speech is delivered, the action cuts to film of soccer fans around the world making that extra effort to watch a game. In New York, two businessmen devote their lunch break to soccer. In Africa, fans have to go the extra mile just to find a TV. And in Vietnam, a man wakes up at 3 a.m. to watch, which doesn't go down too well with his girlfriend. The spot ends with the words "Champion the Match."
Mr. Trikha added, "Champions League football is the best on the planet and people all around the world watch for different reasons. We want to celebrate that attitude and desire. Fanship is defined by rivalry, but we wanted a film that would inspire football fans over and above those boundaries. The idea is to drive consumer interest and be relevant every match night."
Heineken is putting money behind the Champions League campaign in more than 100 countries this season – including the U.S. – more than in any previous year. The tournament moves into a knockout phase from February, when only 16 teams from the original 32 are still in the draw. At that point Heineken will reboot the campaign with digital activations bringing local insights into viewing behavior to the fore.
Gianluca Di Tondo, senior director global Heineken brand, said in a statement, "Preparing for UEFA Champions League match night makes the experience even better. With a little bit of thought and effort, fans and their friends will have a greater experience. But sometimes a little inspiration is needed, and who better to motivate them than Jose Mourinho?"