The World Cup has come to an end. Some are celebrating Spain's victory, others are mourning the Netherlands defeat, but most are just wondering what to do with their vuvuzelas. KFC has come up with a solution for the latter. The fast-food chain has kicked off a "Vuvuzela Exchange Program," which urges soccer fans to mail in their noisemakers. The first 500 people to do so by July 15 will receive a gift check for a KFC Doublicious sandwich. KFC says its goal is to cheer up bummed-out fans with some free comfort food. Of course, it's also a smart way to drive traffic to restaurants. My question is: What will KFC do with all those vuvuzelas? Anyway, here's the address:
KFC Corporate Headquarters
Attention: Vuvuzela Exchange Program
1900 Colonel Sanders Lane
Louisville, KY 40213
So, now that the World Cup is over, let's flashback to the beginning, when we were all mesmerized by Nike's awesome "Write the Future" ad from Wieden + Kennedy. The three-minute creative epoch, which canonized some of soccer's biggest names, explored the fine line between footballer glory and failure. So, on which side of that line did these highly paid guys land? Mostly failure. After England crashed out against Germany, lethargic striker Wayne Rooney didn't retreat to a dingy caravan; he flew to his $7.5 million seaside mansion in Barbados. Far from the debonair, tuxedo-clad Ping Pong player who trounces Roger Federer in the commercial, he's just been voted the ugliest footballer on the planet. As for Portugal's reigning stud, Cristiano Ronaldo, he's had to settle for a mini-me rather than a towering statue in the center of Lisbon after his side was defeated by Spain. Ronaldo, who's been exploring his feminine side through tweets about his new son born of a surrogate mother, has also been spotted poolside in New York with dainty, lacquered toenails. Italy's Fabio Cannavaro returned home to a barrage of rotten vegetables, not TV-show serenades, after the previous World Cup holders couldn't even advance out of the group stage. Ditto for Franck Ribéry, whom Nike used to taunt Rooney as a replacement ad pin-up in the spot, after France's shambolic performance caused them to also exit at the group stage. As for Brazil's Ronaldinho, he never even got to South Africa, let alone inspire a craze for "Samba-robics" modeled after his own victory dance. In the view of some observers, Nike's roster of superstars are so incapable of writing their own future, they're firmly in the grip of a brand curse.
There's no better way to celebrate yesterday's victory by the U.S. soccer team than with virtual face painting. Thanks to McDonald's, I was able to mock up my portrait in honor of Landon Donovan & Co. The effect leaves a bit to be desired. I look somewhat like a Mexican professional wrestler, but maybe you'll have better luck. You can also try out a similar app that Budweiser has launched on Facebook. And if you're one of those people who complains how boring soccer is, go Elf Yourself.
Pizza Hut's Irish stores have generated a lot of international media for a World Cup promotion on Facebook intended to give away a free pizza to Gaelic consumers every time a goal was scored against France. The chain sought to satisfy fans' appetite for retribution after French player Thierry Henry's unpunished handball in a World Cup qualifier last year denied Ireland entry to soccer's biggest tournament. France, of course, had a disastrous turn in the South African games, culminating in a 2-1 defeat today to the host country (following a goalless draw with Uruguay and a 2-0 defeat to Mexico). But while Irish football fans should be enjoying a dish called revenge with extra cheese and pepperoni, they're turning their wrath towards Pizza Hut instead. It's not clear if the 350-pie limit has been reached or if the site is malfunctioning, but free pizzas appear not to be available to the hungry fans demanding them.
The best mascot the U.S. could come up with for the 1994 World Cup was a generic-looking brown dog with one foot on a soccer ball and his mind on chasing cars, taking naps and, well, anything except playing soccer. Because, you know, we don't care about soccer here. But at least it wasn't an ethnic stereotype or offensive representation of the host country, which is more the norm, judging by an illuminating Fast Company slideshow. (There have also been some vaguely creepy characters in the mix.) Take a look at some of the World Cup mascots of yore: an Argentine cowboy with a whip in his hand; British World Cup Willie, the first mascot, from 1966, who's inexplicably sporting an '80s rocker hairdo; and Pique, a jalapeno pepper wearing a giant sombrero, baggy clothes and huge 'stache that Fast Company finds "just a hair behind Speedy Gonzalez" in the gross-cultural-stereotype department. This year's mascot is kind of a head-scratcher, if you could find his noggin in that big bouffant. Zakumi, a leopard who'll preside over the tournament starting June 11, represents "the people, geography and spirit of South Africa," according to a FIFA statement. But there's still no explanation for that hair.