The general consensus is that Spanish football’s El Clasico was at its very peak in the early 2010s, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo battling it out on either side of the divide, representing arguably the two biggest teams in football.
When you add to that the fact that Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho were in each dugout, having built superteams around their corresponding superstar, it’s pretty hard to argue otherwise.
It’s an era of football that set the tone for the next decade and continues to dominate social media even now, in the form of nostalgic quips and Twitter users engaging in enthralling debates of who the bigger fraud is between Pessi and Penaldo.
But what makes that Pessi/Penaldo stuff seem like genuinely intellectual discourse – seriously, you should see some of the effort that goes into those memes – is an advert that has surfaced from 2012, arguably the very height of El Clasico, involving Messi and Ronaldo themselves.
We’re now over a decade removed from this ad, which is important to consider. Branding and investment into commercial campaigns have come on leaps and bounds in that 10 years or so, with the power of advertising now better understood and more carefully considered than ever.
Right, disclaimer over. Now we can get to the good stuff.
This television advert involving – arguably – the two greatest football players of all time and undoubtedly some of the most popular athletes on the planet in the 21st Century, is absolutely hilarious.
Even more hilarious knowing the size of the stars involved, and what they managed to come up with.
Not sure this 2012 advert for El Clasico involving Messi and Ronaldo will ever be topped, to be honest.
Pure cinema. Brings a tear to your eye…pic.twitter.com/FedWEnsbMN
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) July 18, 2023
Art, isn’t it? A timeless classic.
Forget your Barbies, your Oppenheimers. Load of rubbish. Iconic Nike adverts? Nah. Crap. This one takes the cake.
This one looks straight out of a GCSE ICT suite, directed and created by a bunch of students who spent half of the lesson creating football boots on Nike ID and drafting all-time XIs like an episode of Monday Night Football.
There are a few things we need to address here, so let’s dissect them.
Firstly, that obnoxiously loud, royalty-free music in the background sounds like something you’d find in the least helpful YouTube tutorial imaginable.
Couple that with the stellar graphics at the end, which reference ‘The Classico’, and you’re off to a flyer in your bid to win the GCSE Media Studies assignment bingo.
Seriously, though, those graphics. Who’s signed off on that? The budget stretches to the two biggest footballers on the planet at the time, and we couldn’t spare a little bit of it to graduate from generating the rest of the ad in PowerPoint? Stinker.
What’s also rather hilarious is seeing Messi sat there decked out in his Barcelona kit, ready for a game that doesn’t appear to be happening for at least another few weeks. That right there is a man dedicated to ‘The Classico’ alright.
While we’re on the topic of the Argentine, it’s time to address that home screen, which is the most hilariously 2012 iPhone home screen imaginable.
On ‘Messi’s’ phone, before he opens his messages to text ‘Ronaldo CR7’ we can see a selection of his downloaded applications, which include the ITV Player and the piece du resistance, Talking Tom.
He’s a simple man, is our seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. Loves cartoon cats and catching up on British soaps. We can only imagine the fake beer-drinking app is hidden away on another page.
Ronaldo is a more serious figure. All business. His muted attire and his Samsung tell us that. No fun apps on there, just his beloved Real Madrid background image. That’s a company man, right there.
We say serious, but that seriousness fades when the pair start sharing some unrelenting banter via text. Banter that is weirdly all in capitals and rather strangely British in its tone.
That’s not a surprise with Ronaldo, who is known to speak English. But it’s hard to imagine a world where Messi is texting his old foe about ‘scoring against you lot’ like he’s on the playground at dinner time.
It’s quite striking to watch this back and see just how far advertising and branding have come in a relatively small space of time but also to see two superstars of the game involved in something that these days likely wouldn’t get above a C in the classroom.
If there was ever a piece of media that captured the intensity and quality of the rivalry that was early 2010s El Clasico, this was most definitely not it.
By Mitchell Wilks