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Nike, Pepsi Campaigns Steal Show at Latin America's Wave Festival

Works From F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO Argentina Win Coveted Blue Wave Awards

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- Nike transformed fans of Sao Paulo football team Corinthians into an independent nation, and PepsiCo-Cola matched a promise by Argentina's soccer coach to strip naked if his team won the World Cup. Those two ideas, simple but thoroughly captivating, won the two coveted Blue Wave awards at Latin America's Wave Festival last week in Rio de Janeiro, and are likely to be contenders at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June.

Nike 's agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi realized that the 30 million-strong fan base for the Corinthians soccer club is bigger than population of many countries. So the marketer founded the Corinthians Nation (in Portuguese, "Republica Popular do Corinthians"), complete with a Magna Carta-like document published in newspapers and birth certificates, identity documents and even a Corinthians currency for fans. They were issued Corinthians passports to be stamped at the stadium at each game. During matches, fans waved an enormous Corinthians Nation flag. And the campaign got a big publicity hit by sending a "presidential kit" to Brazil's then-president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, inviting him to head the new republic. He appeared on TV proudly wearing his Corinthians presidential sash.

Nike : Republica Popular do Corinthians

The campaign won the Blue Wave Integrated award, and has just been selected "Idea of the Year" by Saatchi & Saatchi's worldwide creative board.

The other Blue Wave winner, for the festival's Big Idea, was Pepsi's "Promise" campaign by BBDO Argentina. During last year's World Cup, Diego Maradona, a soccer legend and coach of Argentina's team, promised to run a naked victory lap around the landmark obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires if his team won the soccer championship. Pepsi seized the moment and made a similar outrageous pledge: If Argentina won, Pepsi would go naked too, stripping the label off its soft-drink bottles for a week. To show how that would look, Pepsi ran print ads showing a Pepsi-shaped plastic bottle dressed in only a blue label and featuring the nudity promise, and distributed sample naked bottles.

Adding to the fun, Pepsi invited fans to post on Facebook a nude photo of themselves -- wearing only a strategically placed tag with the now-famous Pepsi message "If the coach goes naked, we will too." Fans uploaded 14,000 near-naked pictures, and spent an average of more than six minutes on the site.

In the end, Spain won the World Cup but Pepsi's cheeky bid to grab attention for itself despite not being a World Cup sponsor paid off. The soft drink ranked as one of the four brands -- the other three were official sponsors -- consumers associated with the World Cup in Argentina.

"[The winners] show an effort to keep it simple, go back to basics," said Mario D'Andrea, JWT Brazil's president, who chaired the Film jury and also judged the Blue Wave. "This is something we Latins do really well, because we've never had astronomical production budgets. There was some really good work from Brazil, Argentina and Mexico that speaks to our hearts and shows relationships and behavior instead of tech tricks."

The 4-year-old Wave Festival is held at the historic beachfront Copacabana Palace Hotel, and drew 1,814 entries, up 21% from last year. The Wave is organized by Grupo Meio & Mensagem, Ad Age's editorial partner in Brazil.

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