A GOOOOOOOAL for World Cup sponsors

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While lacking overwhelming popularity in the United States, soccer (football) long ago locked up its position as the world’s most popular sport.  And, with the kickoff of the 2010 World Cup imminent, companies are eager to see their millions of advertising dollars reach global audiences.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) reported some staggering numbers from the last World Cup in 2006.  The international event garnered a total cumulative television audience of 26.29 billion spread out over 376 channels in 214 countries, making the World Cup the most popular singular sporting event worldwide, standing out amidst a fast changing media landscape.

Naturally, an event of this size is the target of some advertising campaigns with hefty price tags – unsurprising, given that 40% of people claim that sponsorship of the World Cup improves their consideration of the company’s brand.

So, where is the advertising money landing?  In this new age of fast paced multi-media outlets, companies wishing to market themselves in tandem with the World Cup have a variety of options.  Some industry giants like McDonald’s and Budweiser have chosen to pay top dollar (in 2006, an estimated €40 million ($48M) each) to secure one of the coveted positions as “official partner.”  However, in this hi-tech social world, perhaps a more efficient approach is through internet-based social media outlets (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).

Some of the superstars of the branding world have launched social media advertising initiatives that stand out among the masses:

  • McDonald’s is offering fans an online fantasy tournament.  This is a creative way for fans to interact with the players, all the while promoting the McDonald’s brand.  However, what this gains through its uniqueness, it loses with a lack of social media: there is no Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace integration.
  • Powerade produced 16 minivideos on its YouTube channel, each marketing itself as the solution for your hydration needs.  With buoys from Facebook and internet banner advertisements, this initiative represents an entertaining medium with good potential for a positive reception.
  • Coca-Cola’s campaign harkens back to Roger Milla’s infamous 1990 corner flag dance.   With impressive flamboyance, Coke has branded its YouTube channel with a colorful World Cup display and prompts the audience to upload personal videos of celebrations in tune to Milla’s original.  Coke completes the package with an up-to-date Facebook page and a frequently updated Twitter account.  Overall, an excellent initiative.
  • Nike produced an all-encompassing television ad, and highlighted it on their YouTube channel.  This ad, entitled Write The Future, exemplifies the far-reaching implications of each play on the field.  The clips of fans and players from around the world shows our global interconnectedness.  Supported by Facebook and Twitter, the Write The Future campaign is a personal favorite.

Every four years the global community turns their gaze towards the World Cup, and the world’s biggest and best known brands compete in a different arena for a chance to be associated with it.  New technologies, including social media, give companies a chance to let fans feel more intimately involved with an event halfway around the world.  At the same time, they hope, fans will feel more intimately connected with their brands.

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One Response to “A GOOOOOOOAL for World Cup sponsors”

  1. Brian Keaney Says:

    Turns out Nike isn’t even a World Cup sponsor – their rival Adidas is. The New York Times has a great story today on ambush marketing in South Africa, including Nike’s ad campaign.

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