Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
How Mirum Brazil Broadcast a Fake Football Match to Trick Football Pirates
Advertising Agency
Bogotá, Colombia
Mirum Brazil’s creative director Filipe Matiazi speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about the full match broadcast with fake players, commentators and even streakers

After learning that over 33 million Brazilians have used pirated television content, Brazilian creative agency Mirum Brazil partnered with DIRECTV GO to broadcast a full, live football match that would lure in football fans looking to pirate the Champions League match between Manchester United and Atletico Madrid. The two-hour-long broadcast featured a commentary team, players with hilariously familiar names and appearances and some wonderfully melodramatic scripted moments, including an actual bike on the field and a streaker.

The campaign was designed to grab the attention of any stream-searching pirate and keep them watching so that DIRECTV GO could promote its legal and more reliable sports streaming services through traditional adverts, banners and pop-ups that you expect from a pirated stream. Clearly impressed by the shockingly mediocre footballing talent on display from ‘Rolando’ and his fellow red devils, the average audience retention was an impressive 19 minutes.

To go behind the scenes on this phoney pirate broadcast, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with Mirum Brazil’s creative director Filipe Matiazi about battling the weather during the broadcast, casting 22 footballer lookalikes and keeping an audience engaged to deliver anti-piracy messaging directly to football stream pirates.

LBB> Where did the initial creative concept for this campaign come from?

Filipe> Firstly, watching pirate TV is deeply embedded in Brazilian culture, particularly when it comes to watching sporting events. When we started planning for the brand, we found data from the Brazilian Pay TV Association that revealed more than 33 million Brazilians use or have utilised pirated content. That's almost the same number of people who live in Canada. As a result, we decided that this would be one of the territories we explored for DIRECTV GO, as we saw an opportunity to speak to over 33 million potential customers.


LBB> Did Direct TV have a brief for the campaign or did you approach them with the concept?

Filipe> The idea for the project came from a brand briefing. The work was initially going to be for the activation of DIRECTV GO’s partnership with a famous Brazilian football team. We came up with the ‘Pirate Match’ idea during the second round of development. Once it was approved internally, we presented it to the client as a 100% pirated game to engage fans who watch content illegally. However, we weren’t able to get this across the line before the sponsorship contract ended in December 2021, so we decided to redirect the idea to a global context to focus on the platform’s quality content, free trial and anti-piracy stance.

LBB> Walk us through the creative process for the pirate football match.

Filipe> We had numerous conversations about how we could make this happen – some of which were extremely heated! However, we all agreed that a complete broadcast was required, encompassing everything from the opening, halftime, and highlights. After all, every football match is a story with a beginning, middle, and finale, which is something we wanted our screenplay to account for – incidents that would keep the audience engaged and spark their interest for the duration of the 120-minute broadcast. It was a difficult assignment, but also a lot of fun. Across the various stages of production, it took around nine months from the first idea to seeing the match on air. It took 30 days to produce the whole game, including casting, location scouting, production, and filming the game itself.

LBB> How was the process of writing the fake names for the teams and players? Do you have any personal favourites?


Filipe> It was as fun as it sounds. In the beginning, the rule was: there are no bad ideas. We started out by checking the line-up for the original teams to see what we could come up with for alternate names. We picked the winning names from a long list, but it was definitely the funniest moment of the process with everyone in the team making suggestions.

People were having a lot of fun with the names on Twitter! And internally, there was a fight over Doente's (Llorente's), Pança's (Sancho's) and Cavando's (Cavani) jerseys.


LBB> The match included lots of funny referee decisions and football clichés - such as overdramatic diving and a fan streaking on the pitch - how did you come up with all these visual jokes and which was your favourite to create?

Filipe> Lots of people were involved in this process! Some of our creatives are football fanatics so as a result, we were able to come up with a repertoire that fitted like a glove for this type of execution. We had a long list of events (we could play three games without repeating jokes), but we decided to balance the game so that the events unfolded naturally. Plus, our budget didn’t quite stretch to executing everything we wanted. The entire team burst out laughing at some of the jokes. Pança's injury simulation (he spent five minutes motionless on the pitch) and the streaker were some of the highlights because it looked like it unfolded completely naturally within the game. One of our objectives was to make everything look so natural that the audience were left wondering if it was all real or a big simulation and I think we got there!


LBB> How did you ensure that people would find your fake match when searching for pirate streams? And why did you choose this match?

Filipe> We were aware of the methods fans used to find matches for free, with Google and social media used the most. We simply targeted them on their way to watching the games for free. We participated in a number of groups on social media to spread the link. It was a manual job, but the dialogue had to happen between real fans, not bots. We also purchased some of the most popular keywords in these searches, such as ‘watch game online’ and ‘champions league live’. Our ads were found by those who were searching for links to watch the game for free, which took them to a landing page that was the same style as the ones used in the broadcast.

It’s pretty straightforward when it comes to why we selected this particular game – it’s the world’s largest club league with some of the most iconic individuals in the history of the game, so it presented a huge opportunity to target as many pirate TV viewers as possible.


LBB> What was the viewership and interactions with the stream like - how many people watched live?

Filipe> During the first 15 minutes of the match, we received over 20,000 clicks, which is a very impressive number considering it was such a short time with a very small media investment. We were also competing with other streaming brands that were starting to bid on the same words on Google as soon as they realised what we were doing. The average length of stay also caught our attention: 19 minutes. Enough time for our brand messages to reach each viewer five times. On social media, the idea gained a lot of traction. So far, the campaign has had more than nine million organic views (and counting).

LBB> What was the casting process like? How did you find the players, lookalikes and commentary team?

Filipe> The casting was conducted in collaboration with our production partner. Three basic criteria were used to cast the players:

1) They had to resemble the original player in terms of physical appearance.

2) They had to be bad at football.

3) They had to play sports and be relatively physically fit.

We searched far and wide for our participants to come up with a list of almost 100 potential people, including actors and comedians to make the events flow naturally. For example, Rolando (Cristiano Ronaldo lookalike) is from Serbia and Montenegro, but he’s married to a Brazilian and lives in Blumenau, a city about 200km from the pitch we recorded the game at.

LBB> How did you convert viewers of the stream into potential customers for Direct TV?

Filipe> We had banners and annoying pop-ups (just like the ones on pirate streaming sites) with messages from DIRECTV GO offering direct access to the original game - through a seven-day free trial. In addition, we had 20 DIRECTV GO insertions throughout the broadcast, each with a QR Code that provided access to the original game for free.


LBB> Have you worked with Buzz CCS before? Why were they an ideal partner for the production?

Filipe> For both our agency and production partners, this was an unusual project to work on – it’s not every day that you produce and broadcast a 90-minute football match! Buzz CCS was an excellent partner, not only in terms of making the project a success, but also in terms of joint learning as they gained the support of a second team of football broadcasting experts. It was a project that required many hands and a lot of effort from everyone involved, and we’re extremely satisfied with the teamwork that led to such excellent results.

LBB> How was the experience of setting up a live broadcast for this campaign? Did it offer any unique creative opportunities? And did it pose any interesting challenges?

Filipe> It was, without a doubt, extremely difficult. We had no margin for error, so we devised a detailed risk-mitigation strategy. To ensure we had control of the narrative, we created a script that detailed what should happen minute by minute. However, we gave the broadcasting team (announcers, commentators, and reporters) freedom to improvise. We also created a persona for each of them, so they had a ‘character’ from which to improvise. The commentators were brilliant, so this was a huge success. Although we planned as much as we could and were confident in the production team, it was a very long shoot with plenty of room for unseen events and improvisation. The creative team was in full force on set!

The weather was different to the forecast, and it turned out to be a cold and rainy day. We had thought of this in the pre-production meetings, but it was still a problem. Especially when a lot of water (which had accumulated from one of the tents) fell on the head of one of our creatives. He was cold for the rest of the shoot… and by ‘he’, I mean me. The rain also meant that the streaker had to reshoot the field invasion scene at the end of the match. Twice. While it was raining.

LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this project, and how did you overcome it?

Filipe> The most challenging aspect was keeping control of the actions on-field and ensuring that communication flowed smoothly for everyone present – from the 22 people on the field to almost 100 in the crew and fans in the stands. And the game had to flow too - we couldn't afford any cuts or stoppages because it would completely affect the ‘vibe’ of the match. Plus, everything is very far away on a football pitch, with a lot of players to keep track of. Communication is difficult anyway, let alone set against a backdrop of cold and rainy weather, but thank goodness we were successful!

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