My siblings and I grew up playing soccer. For us, every weekend was packed with tournaments and practices. I was probably the least athletically inclined one out of the three of us, but I always found immense joy watching or playing soccer. For me, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is no different.
The FIFA World Cup is a totally unique experience, especially for Americans. First, the United States is an underdog, which provides a new perspective. Second, with the exception of the Olympics, where else can you find an event that caters to the world’s population? Soccer players leave their club teams behind and compete against team members to honor their country. It is simply an amazing event.
The 2014 World Cup has garnered a great deal of social media popularity, with CNN saying that it is becoming the biggest social media event in history. So far, 90% of the world has been engaged in these social media conversations. Soccer superstars have taken to Twitter to promote the event and garner media attention. Cristiano Ronaldo, the second highest paid athlete in the world, comes in at number one in The Top 15 Social Networking Superstars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It doesn’t stop with just athletes. Teams are creating hashtags for individual games so those that cannot watch the event live can be kept update on the action. The United States Men’s National Team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, wrote fans a “get out of work” note to show support for the USMNT, which has appeared on Facebook and other social sites. (In my opinion it was well deserved after the comments he made about the team prior to their first game.) The USMNT is taking a page from the marketing playbook and has gone to great lengths to unite the US fans by telling stores of all 23 USMNT players on their YouTube channel. So far, the use of social media has spread far and wide, but the strategies of each platform have (so far) been very thought out. The graphics and storylines for each area fit the medium, but are always reinforcing the overall message of “One Nation. One Team”. I always find it disappointing when you see regurgitated information across multiple platforms that doesn’t fit the language or context of the platform. So far, IMC plan for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has appeared effective and very well thought out.
Media and social media presence around the World Cup has been amazing, but the World Cup provides unique challenges for marketers. The first issue lies with the very thing that makes the World Cup so successful. The World Cup is a world event, which makes advertising space much for valuable. Additionally, there are no commercial breaks during the halves. Each half is 45 minutes of continual play, which means there is only ad time before the event, after the event, and during half time. With the events in Brazil this year, there have been water breaks added to games at the discretion of the referee when it is warmer than 86 degrees F. The trouble with banking on ad space during this time is that it is not guaranteed. So, much of the advertising time is eaten up by official sponsors and companies with a budget large enough to get in the game.
Even with limited ad space in the World Cup and a small advertising budget, Puma has figured out how to get attention without sacrificing their entire ad budget. If you’ve watched the World Cup you may have seen several players with mismatched, surprisingly colored shoes. Puma has released Tricks – a pair of one pink and one blue shoe. They’re very noticeable on the feet of several world-level athletes such as Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré. The shoes have many advantages, but the largest one being the media attention they’re getting during the World Cup without paying for the ad space. Viewers can look at the shoes for a minimum of 90 minutes and Puma’s ad budget is saved for advertising after the World Cup, closer to the back-to-school time frame.
The infographic below was released in early June, but provides a great starting point for an analytic look at the World Cup so far.
Offerpop’s World Cup Infographic:
A sporting event at this level has many advantages and disadvantages for marketers. The world attention placed on the games have provided viewers with a rich and diverse social media and advertising experience without sacrificing the integrity of the sport. Even if you’re a marketer, but not a soccer fan you can appreciate the experience.
What have been some of your favorite 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament moments on or off the field?