A Nearly Religious Event
“We are obsessed with soccer in the region. It's nearly a religious event,” Cynthia Evans, Director of Research Group M/Mediaedge:cia, who buys media for major companies including Colgate, Sprint, Sony, Colgate Palmolive, Sony Ericsson and Energizer, tells Portada. Make no mistake about it. The Soccer World Cup is the major event, if not the most important, to reach Latin American audiences; definitely male audiences. Brand marketers and media properties are gearing up and refining their marketing strategies and offerings. Media properties, agencies and brand marketers hope that the approximately $20 billion a year Latin American advertising market will receive a substantial World Cup related ad spend increase in 2010. “We have several advertisers around the world who are sponsors of Fifa World Cup,” Evans says. “Largest is probably the various Sony companies and our MEC Access division globally is working with Fifa directly, so we are ramping up and actively following details.” Evans notes that even if some Latin American countries do not qualify for the play off stage, local TV ratings in those countries may be a little lower “but sponsorship money is on the table and the show will go on. And there is Brazil which accounts for at least half of the fan base and they will make the playoffs and I'm not counting Maradona out yet”.
Sponsorships for the World Cup are sold long in advance. Specially the sponsorships sold directly by Fifa (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). These major sponsorships are sold under the condition of category exclusivity and have an influence over the type of advertising media properties can sell to corporations. For example, Mastercard can not buy a major sponsorship related to the tournament, because Visa already bought one with category exclusivity. Other major sponsors with category exclusivity include: Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Hiunday, Sony, Adidas, Emirates Airlines, Budweiser, Continental, MTN Group (South African Telecom Services), Castrol, Satyam (IT Development Services). Fifa sponsors get a preferential treatment to sponsor the World Cup as a whole (e.g. banners in the stadiums, TV broadcasts, the game clock etc...), however other sponsors can align their brands in a myriad of other ways like print advertising, 30: spots in TV, radio, online advertising etc. In addition, they can sponsor individual national teams (e.g. Nike sponsors the Brazilian and the U.S. teams and Puma sponsors Italy).
Not a regular campaign
The way corporations set up marketing and advertising strategies for the World Cup differs substantially from other more routine marketing activities. The World Cup product does not show up in TV upfronts. “Its impact on ratings is tremendous “ says Jesus Mata, Sr. Director, Advertising Services at DirecTV Latin America. “The ratings of the World Cup games, amount to a month of Super bowl broadcasts. It requires a special treatment both by marketers and media companies.”
Franklin Vargas, Marketing Manager for Latin America at Genius, agrees: “It’s a completely different process. It might signify a new way of seeing a brand, a new concept, a new technology, and this in turn could mean great revenues for future products or services a particular company advertises. Marketing strategists have to be very careful and look at the massive reach that an event like this brings, its power to engage the end consumer with a particular brand as well as the opportunity to expose a brand to a new global target audience. It has to be done very carefully.”
Growth in Consumer Goods, Weakness in Automotive and Finance 2010 will be a challenging year. While it will hopefully be the beginning of the recovery in many areas of the World and Latin American economy, many sectors have experienced a significant contraction during 2009. According to DirecTV’s Mata “Automotive, financial services and airlines, to name a few, will probably have a more conservative approach than in the past; consumer goods, consumer electronics, food services and beverages will probably develop deeper connections with the opportunity.” Genius’s Franklin Vargas, points out that many companies that have sponsored the Soccer World Cup in the past are going through difficulties. “They have to look at their own financial health first. It is important to know also that “participation in an event like the Soccer World Cup, always amounts to a substantial budget which is not a fixed expense, and by not being something fixed, it gives the flexibility of reducing the funds of investment, or avoiding the investment totally. The economic crisis impacts the 2010 Soccer World Cup in a big way, because companies are going to see results in the long term, and at this point long term means risk.”
DIRECTV Latin America will be the only television service to transmit all 64 games live (no one does that in Latin America) and will also be the firstand only full high definition television broadcast of the tournament in the continent. According to Mata, “DirecTV is again providing the only fully immersive World Cup experience available in the continent. DIRECTV plans to devote several 24-hour television channels to FIFA and World Cup content in preparation for the actual tournament.” Grupo Latino de Radio is another panregional media property which is investing in Soccer World Cup content. Another major player is Grupo Diarios America a consortium of major Latin American newspapers that sells advertising into Latin America out of Miami. GLR is majority owned by Spain’s Grupo Prisa. Luigi Bellizzi, Marketing Manager at Grupo Latino de Radio, tells Portada that Union Radio, the holding company for Grupo Prisa’s radio assets is working to secure the rights to air the soccer world cup matches in some countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile. “We’re also working on great shoulder programming for both those countries and the rest. This programming includes daily features as well as weekly shows with in depth commentaries, results, interviews, etc. These shows will air pan regionally.” Belizzi adds that “we have increased the pan regional side of it. Meaning, besides the national efforts in each country, we are working to bring great daily features and weekly shows that interest our listeners in every country. An example of the features that GLR is already airing is Rumbo a Sudafrica. “It remembers the biggest moments of the greatest event in soccer and their heroes; who better than one of those heroes to tell us all about it?” GLR’s broadcasts are delivered by former player and renowned sports expert Jorge Campos. Campos is one of the most notable Mexican soccer players in the 1990s. On its part, DirecTV will be marketing its World Cup efforts to Latin American consumers through an integrated, continental marketing campaign comprising on-air, radio, online, outdoors and print advertising elements, as well as social media, direct marketing and below-the-line initiatives among DIRECTV’s current subscriber base and prospects– DIRECTV already reaches close to three million households in the territory comprising Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela and the West Indies. Sky, DirecTV’s sister company in Mexico, is putting together a comparable package for its 1.7 million subscriber base.
...and local approach...
For sure, despite the panregional approach, no advertiser or media property forgets that each country has its own intricacies. As DirecTV’s Jesus Mata puts it “ No two countries within the DIRECTV area of coverage in Latin America are the same. This time around, several of our territories will have their national teams participating, in many cases with real possibilities of reaching the latter stages of the tournament and with a fair shot to the finals. While our strategy is massive and oriented towards the potential viewership base at large, factors like DIRECTV’s market position, penetration, competitive situation and general viewership habits of the respective population do of course mean that our approach will be adapted to the specific circumstances of each country.” According to Paola Sanchez, Marketing Manager at US Media Consulting in Miami, the amount of coverage received for the World Cup in each country depends on whethe the national team qualifies; “therefore, our strategy differs from country to country. The qualifying countries will have more opportunities to reach audiences since additional vehicles will be available to reach the soccer fans. However, there are countries that are particularly important to reach whether or not they qualify for the World Cup because of the large soccer market that exists within them.” Belizzi from GLR also notes that his media network provides a local touch by airing some extra national programming in each country to complement the national team’s information.
Local providers are very strong in some markets. This is the case, for instance of Telefe and TyC Producciones (owned in part by DirecTV) in Argentina. Another example of strong local providers are Internet sports portals like Rede Globo Esportes, UOL Esporte in Brazil and Mediotiempo.com in Mexico.
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