Have you ever wondered what the world’s best athletes do before their games? The Game Before the Game is a 2014 spot by Beats by Dre that shows you just that. This is my analysis of this thrilling five minute sports video by Beats by Dre.
Beats by Dre’s attempt to hijack the 2014 World Cup with a music video
The Game Before the Game is a 2014 football World Cup spot by Beats by Dre. In fact, it could be seen as the brand’s attempt to hijack what the public was talking about for the Brazilian tournament. Beats’ problem was that not being an official sponsor of the tournament meant that they couldn’t create any ads directly mentioning the World Cup. This is comparable to the Olympic embargo brands have to adhere to.
Beats then opted to instead focus on the only aspect of the World Cup they could use in their branding: pre game rituals. The film they created lasts a whopping five minutes, and can hardly be seen as an ad any more. Instead, I’d like to propose to view it as a music video. This makes sense given the brand’s product wouldn’t exist without music. It also can’t be any coincidence that director Nabil Elderkin is known for his music videos. The first part of the videos doesn’t feature music, but once Neymar puts on his headphones, the track Jungle by X Ambassadors & Jamie N Commons starts playing. I rather like this effect.
What’s interesting is that the film is rather shareable and clearly helped the brand get talked about. It was distributed through Beats’ social channels, along with some stories behind the rituals featured in the film.
Read about another sports spot that I really loved: Under Armour’s video starring Yusra Mardini
All-star cast led by Neymar Jr.
The film features an all-star cast of both footballers, other athletes and celebrities. The one athlete to tie it all together is Neymar Jr. The film starts off with Neymar calling his father before an unspecified game – could be during the Brazil World Cup. His father shares some encouraging thoughts with him, then when Neymar puts on his headphone the real action starts. We’re treated to one world class athlete after the other. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Cesc Fàbregas, Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suárez, Mario Götze, and my fellow countryman Robin van Persie, they’re all there, sharing their pre-game rituals with us.
That’s not all though. Guess who’s also massively emotionally invested in the World Cup? LeBron James, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Serena Williams turn out to be proper fans as well. It was also a nice touch to put legends Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry in the film. In addition to these celebrities, the film also features random fans from around the world, whose hopes for success during the tournament are high.
Fun little fact: after the World Cup was won by Germany, each member of the national team received a 24-carat gold Beats headphone, delivered to them by none other than Naomi Campbell. Now let’s just hope those won’t weigh them down in their training for the 2018 World Cup too much.
Creative and content analysis of The Game Before the Game
Now let me just start this section off by saying that this film was shot in a very produced and commercial style, perhaps slightly too much so for my personal taste. Somehow I feel that it gets away with that though, by being built on a strong concept. The storytelling aspect is very evident, and the line-up of world class stars fit within this story neatly. The video shows the preparation of both athletes, celebrities and random fans, and glorifies it.
Even though the scenes are obviously heavily scripted, it’s really interesting to discover these athletes’ rituals. There’s Fabregas, who kisses a ring his girlfriend gave him four times, not three or five. There’s Suarez, who kisses the tattoo of his children’s names on his wrist. There’s down to earth Schweinsteiger who shows us a more functional ritual: wetting his socks before the game to make his shoes fit better.
Of course it’s not all kisses and hail Maries. There’s a headphone to be sold, and you bet you’ll see plenty of Beats’ product in this video. I don’t feel like the brand overdid the product placement in this film though. What’s more, viewers all know the vast majority of athletes actually do play some music before their games. In fact, I even listen to the same exact song every single time I walk to my local climbing gym, and play the same album when I go for a run. It makes sense for some headphones to feature in the film.
The light and color grading in the film is glorious and commercial. It’s not a style I’d personally use, but given the fact that these are all super stars, why not light them as such. One lighting style I absolutely did love was the final scene. Neymar Jr. steps out of a dark tunnel and onto the pitch, slowly catching the light on his face. The gorgeous contrast between the dark tunnel and his tanned skin is stunning. I’ve personally added this lighting style to my bag of tricks as a favourite.
The Game Before the Game Video and spoof featuring David Hasselhoff
Finally, without further ado, here’s the actual video itself.
Now once you’re done watching that, be sure to check out the video below. This was actually created by Beats by Dre, and must be an attempt to help ignite the talk about pre game rituals and perhaps make people want to record their own videos.
Credits for this Beats by Dre video
Finally, these are the people and agencies that worked on this video, as found on Adweek. I only put part of the credits here, for the full list be sure to head over to Adweek.
A Film By:
In Association With:
R/GA & Sword Fight
Director: Nabil Elderkin
Director of Photography: Danny Hiele
Executive Creative Director: Omar Johnson
Creative Director: Diallo Marvel
Produced By: Ana Julfayan, Justin Benoliel
Producers: Niko Maronn, Peter Feldman