Adages: Agency hosts a battle for the bottom at the top of the world

By Published on .

Most Popular
Last year, Kessels Kramer, the Dutch ad agency, single-handedly organized a soccer match between the two worst countries in world soccer, Montserrat, a tiny island nation in the Caribbean, (ranked number 203) and Bhutan, an isolated kingdom in the Himalayas, (number 202). The game took place on the very day of the World Cup Finals one year ago, June 30, 2002. It attracted 25,000 people to Chlanglimithang Stadium, in Bhutan's capitol, Thimphu (population 40,000, elevation 7,600 feet), and Johan Kramer, director and founding partner of the agency, shot a documentary about the match called "The Other Final," which was screened recently in Europe but has not yet found a distributor. Sports Illustrated reviewed the film this month, calling it "brilliant." Check out to find out where the movie is screening.

The idea behind the movie was to put together teams from two nations with absolutely nothing in common (Montserrat is Catholic and bounded by ocean; Bhutan is Buddhist and surrounded by mountains), and show how the game of soccer overcomes all cultural differences.

"The Netherlands has always been in the top 10," says Matthijs de Jongh, strategy director and partner at KK. "But last year, we did not even qualify for the World Cup, so we were very frustrated about that. But it also taught us a lot about our arrogance. We realized this was good therapy, and we started to look into the power of losing. Looking into the positive aspects of losing."

So the agency, which does international creative work for Diesel jeans and Fila, among other accounts, decided to step out of its advertising shoes and put on a pair of spikes. The soccer match was not sponsored by a marketer and purposely had no commercial affiliations, unlike the cluttered World Cup. "This was not a message against the World Cup, per se," says Matthijs, "but it was a way to say that it is good to celebrate soccer and sports on all levels, not just on the most commercial level, with the most media interest. We even played it with a pure white ball with nothing, no logos printed on it."

It's not the first time. Kessels Kramer is an ad agency that often does projects that are just outside the industry. It publishes books, shoots movies and organizes exhibits. In fact, it just put out a book of original photos by Hans van der Meer of the match. "We do many communications projects that stand alongside the work we do for clients," says Matthijs. "These are all ways for us to gain experience in other disciplines that will help us come up with innovative ideas for our commercial projects." Absolut Vodka was so impressed by its innovations, it recently awarded the shop a creative assignment, which Matthijs would only describe as "a large fashion-communications project."

Who won the soccer match? Bhutan, 4-0.

The trucking department

David Angelo, co-founder of indie shop David & Goliath, Los Angeles, wants to bring "a little personality to a category that doesn't have any." He's referring to the industry of his newest client: South Korean commercial-truck importer Hyundai Truck America. DAG, which handles sibling Kia here, was in an under-the-radar pitch that included indie Richards Group, Dallas, which handles Hyundai Motor America. Angelo says he could relate to the product: "My dad is a former trucker and I'm a former Teamster" who worked as a longshoreman loading big rigs. First ads break in July trades with the tag "Deliver More."

Snap your towel

As we all know by now, Leo Burnett's Grand Prix in the press category at the Cannes ad fest was withdrawn because the ad, for Ferin bookstore in Portugal, had been deemed a "ghost ad"-in other words, not a real ad. The move delayed the announcement of the final winner by an hour as the judges scrambled to pick a new one. To console Burnett Worldwide CEO Linda Wolf for the loss, a Burnett Cannes attendee said the festival's chairman, Roger Hatchuel, sent her an Hermes beach towel.

Contributing: Jean Halliday and Laurel Wentz Pass the ball to

In this article: