It’s often said that football’s gone money mad these days – you can’t set foot on a Premier League training ground without tripping over a roll of tightly wrapped £50 notes I hear.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the world of football endorsements. If it’s not Pepe Reina’s own line of beachball’s it’s Tino Asprilla trying to hawk prophylactics.
Who does he think he is? The Tiger King?
But, y’know, sometimes they just wave that blank cheque long enough and you can’t say no.
And sometimes the club owner makes you do it…
Blackburn Rovers – Venky’s Chicken
Not content with torpedoing the Lancastrian club’s Premier League status with a series of disastrous moves, including the introduction of Steve Kean into our lives, the chicken baron owners “leveraged the asset” into pushing their wares across the Indian subcontinent.
I mean, who thinks of a football changing room and fried chicken?
Well, besides Charlie Adam?
Kevin Keegan – Brut
Even today, football has a well-earned reputation as a bastion of homophobic anxiety in a society that is fast moving away from such prejudices, so f**k knows what was going on back in the decidedly less enlightened times of the late seventies when Brut decided to pair England’s best footballer with the nation’s most famous heavyweight boxer and had them playfully paw at each other in the mean’s changing rooms down the local gym.
You can almost hear Henry Cooper think “If only I was twenty years younger…” in the wistful final shot as the flirtatious Keegan bounds away. Alas.
Getafe – Sperm Donation
As a club famous for having the Burger King logo plastered across the front of their kit in the past, Getafe really had to go the extra mile to generate something truly embarrassing in the sponsorship sphere, but Spanish club managed to do it by promoting the services of the local sperm bank as part of a campaign back in 2011.
Though you might think this was doing a public service rather than seeking to make a quick buck, you’d be wrong, because the campaign was dreamt up as a very long-term solution to the Spanish club’s league-low attendance figures. More sperm banked, more babies, more Getafe supporters, the logic goes. The club even made an adult movie for anyone who needed a helping hand in making their donation. You can watch the very Not Safe For Work ad here.
Man United – Casilero Del Diablo
Man United haven’t become the money printing machine they are by turning down offers to do ads for any old sh*te, and nor have they done it while affording production companies all that much time to work with the club’s acting “talent”, at least if Casilero Del Diablo’s risible 2011 effort is anything to go by.
As an act of generosity to those tasked with creating this advert, try to put yourself in the shoes of the director who had to say, “Yes Wayne, that’ll do, delivering those lines to generate dramatic tension on the level of a tap slow-dripping is exactly what we’re going for in this one.” Imagine the hours of effort expended in breathing life into this embarrassment – and then remember that this must’ve been the best take they could muster. I’ve seen ironing boards in Corrie with more screen presence.
The only way it could’ve been any worse is if United’s squad were pressed to crowbar in sponsored film recommendations at the same time.
Pat Jennings – Unipart
We’re not going to pretend we understand what an oil filter does and the metaphor of a goalkeeper may be entirely apt, but was there really a need to Boiler Man the Northern Ireland, Arsenal and Spurs legend to demonstrate it?
Dressing one of the First Division’s preeminent shot-stoppers like a bin wasn’t enough in this one though. For added authenticity, he is not just saving a football, Rather, Jennings appears to be tipping black oily rags over the bar and around the post, just in case you missed the significance of the ridiculous costume he’s wearing.
It’s that attention to detail that really lifts an ad to the next level.
Roy Keane – Walkers Crisps
For those outside of Ireland reading this, the launch of Leicester’s most famous export in the Republic was kind of a big deal back in the day – so much so that one of the country’s greatest footballers was dragged in to make the eternal battle between Tayto and King crisps a three-way affair.
Given Keano has continually railed against perceived slights and disrespect while plying his trade in the Premier League and often bemoans the way current players don’t take the game seriously enough, you’d wonder what assuaged those concerns as he donned the leprechaun suit and went all cute’n’cuddly with Gary Salt and Lineker for this masterpiece.
Gareth Southgate – Pizza Hut
Astronomic levels of #banter from Stuart Pearce in the lead role here aren’t enough to rescue this ad from the dustbin of footballing endorsements, though the promo does merit some recognition for writing jokes that an eight-year-old would be embarrassed to pass off as their own, mirroring the kind of repartee that one would only expect when the greats of the game get together for a slice down their local pizza house.
Though the bonhomie is well and truly burst by the anguish still evident in Southgate’s demeanour when he peeks out from under the paper bag, this sequence being filmed a matter of months after his soul-crushing penalty miss in the Euro ’96 semi-final.
Though the experience of making the skit was clearly a cathartic one given how Southgate has rebounded professionally since that devastating night. He’s even volunteered to manage England to knock-out stage penalty shoot-out defeats in the future. Talk about personal growth.