November 22, 2022
A wise man once said “I believe in Hope. I believe in Believe.” That man was Ted Lasso. The fictional, Kansas born manager of AFC Richmond from the hit show Ted Lasso.
Without spoiling the 2 seasons to date, the beauty of the show revolves around Ted’s awkward, yet genius, and highly personal use of language. The amazing writing on the show has led to Ted Lasso beginning to blur the lines between fiction and reality. But how exactly?
When the show debuted back in 2020, a social media presence was launched to mimic the content posted by real life football teams. From goal highlights to in-universe social takeovers, the Twitter account set the tone for what was to come. Jump ahead two years and we have seen the show sign a half a million pound licensing deal with the English Premier League, a partnership with Nike to be its kit manufacturer, and AFC Richmond (and Ted Lasso) are even playable in the latest FIFA game. The consistency and effectiveness of weaving the fictional team, and characters, into the real world has allowed the show to become a cult classic and emphasises how the show wants to shape the beautiful game. Enter, The World Cup.
As a football fan I could talk endlessly about the location, timing and discourse around this year's tournament, but this is not the time or place. Instead, I want to speak about how Ted Lasso has perfectly smashed down the so-called ‘fourth wall’ with a campaign that is timely, inspiring and creative. Produced in such a uniquely Ted Lasso tone of voice, that if you have seen the show you can’t help but read them in his iconic midwestern accent.
The above quote, “I believe in Hope. I believe in Believe.”,perfectly summarises the spirit of the campaign. Every USA player and coach heading to the World Cup has had a speech written for them by Ted Lasso reminding them to believe in themselves. Each individual message of inspiration has been plastered on a billboard and drawn from the players upbringing, hairstyle, position or ability. The campaign also added a little more sweetness to the pie by placing them in each player’s hometown, increasing the sense of pride for both the player and local residents. America is a big place with millions of people, so for the 26 players (and coaches) going to the World Cup it is quite an achievement, but an achievement that comes with a lot of pressure. These messages of belief help reduce that pressure to a simple goal, do your best and be yourself.
But the real genius of the campaign is two fold. Firstly, the locations were not revealed in advance or in ‘usual’ billboard locations. They were scattered around waiting for the public to discover. On the side of barns or next to high schools, the messages encourage social sharing until they are all found, further expanding the reach of the campaign and the message behind it. Secondly, in a time of crisis, after crisis, after crisis, they instill a feeling of hope. Not just in who they are addressed to, but to whomever reads them. They are written to be understood by the everyday Joe, to be interpreted in different ways depending on where you are from, and to make you, the reader, understand that no matter who you are and what you do, being you is what’s important. To believe in yourself.
It’s obvious the primary goal of the campaign was to build hype for the upcoming 3rd season, but they have done so by using culture as a trojan horse. They have used the biggest footballing moment of the year to highlight the best part of the show, Ted Lasso. I am sure, as the campaign is shared time and time again, millions of people will be intrigued to who this mystery Ted Lasso is and what on earth he is talking about. As a creative I can’t help but admire the creative genius behind the campaign; inspiring the players of a nation to play at their very best. As an England fan, I hope the USA players never see these inspiring words and lose 5-0 to England. I Believe in Believe.