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World Cup Marketing: 5 Things You Need to Know According to Marketers

With the FIFA World Cup 2018 about to start, Portada touched base with members of the Agency Star Committee to find out how to make the best of the media opportunity. Interviewees: UM's David Queamante, Horizon's Karina Dobarro, and Canvas Worldwide's Cynthia Dickson. Russia 2018 is not just a sports competition; for brands and agencies worldwide, every soccer match is an opportunity to target audiences through an important passion point.


What: Portada touched base with members of our Agency Star Committee to find out how to make the best of World Cup marketing. Interviewees: UM’s David Queamante, Horizon’s Karina Dobarro, and Canvas Worldwide’s Cynthia Dickson.
Why it matters: Russia 2018 is not just a sports competition; for brands and agencies worldwide, every soccer match is an opportunity to target audiences through an important passion point.

Whenever a media opportunity arises, brands and agencies usually evaluate whether it is an opportunity that makes sense for branding, if it will actually help reach targets, and how efficient it can be compared to other opportunities. The FIFA World Cup, for example, doesn’t need as much evaluating, especially if your target is U.S. Hispanics. Sixty-five percent of Latin American internet users say they’ll be watching the tournament this summer. And 90-percent of Hispanics said they were likely to watch.

With Team U.S.A. out of the competition, marketers know that Hispanics will be rooting enthusiastically for their “home team.”

“For Hispanics”, writes HCode CEO Parker Morse, “World Cup viewing is more than watching a soccer game on television. It’s an opportunity to connect with family. This applies both in their countries of origin as well as for the next generation of Hispanics.” The World Cup is such a big deal in Latin America that Hollywood refrains from releasing movies during that month, according to Adriana Trautman, VP of Marketing at Fox Latin America.

Who will be watching?

World Cup marketing

According to Global Web Index, 47-percent of European internet users intend to watch the World Cup. Only 23-percent of adults with an internet connection in North America have expressed the same interest. About 47-percent of the world’s internet users are expected to watch the tournament. The Global Web Index has grouped them according to attitudinal segmentation. From the key findings we can expect 37-percent of the audience to watch matches on TV, compared to 18-percent who’ll be watching online. These numbers vary according to each generation. But it’s clear that traditional broadcasting is still the winner when it comes to the World Cup. This might have something to do with the fact that most viewers (about 62-percent) are concerned with privacy issues.


Where will they watch?

UM’s David Queamante

Depending on the consumer’s age, they will watch either on TV or online.  In order to win, the media should be present at both. “You have to employ both approaches this year if you want to be relevant to consumers. You’re going to catch a tremendous amount of audience on both platforms,” comments David Queamante, SVP, Media Director at UM Worldwide. “Hypothetically, you might get slightly more efficient CPMs on digital. But you’ll be expected to purchase a linear schedule first.” In the case of World Cup marketing, the more exposure the better. There’s no reason to choose one medium over the other. Especially when linear TV tends to win over digital.

world cup marketing

As Parker Morse explains, the World Cup is a means of getting families together, particularly Hispanic families. This is a real opportunity for NBC Universal’s Telemundo, the official World Cup broadcaster in Spanish in the U.S. There is probably no other sports event that matches the World Cup’s convening power. This in itself is an opportunity to get viewers together, as the Vamos! Experience will do in Manhattan. Even though the U.S. soccer team is not among the 32 countries playing, Vamos! found an opportunity to bring people together and give them a place to watch the tournament. For the duration of the cup, viewers can join the “Festival of Soccer” at viewing parties organized by Vamos! Experience.

Where will the conversation be more active?

Social platforms’ relevance during the World Cup is also related to whether viewers are Baby Boomers, Millennials, or Gen Z. But independently from age groups, YouTube is clearly on top. According to Global Web Index, 97-percent of Latin American internet users plan to consume World Cup content on YouTube. This percentage is almost paralleled by all other regions except China, where the top social media is WeChat.

Because of time zones in Russia, we should expect users to consume not only complete matches but in many cases, snippets or summaries of games. As Steven Lacey, founder of the cultural consultancy SLS Insights and Planning, explains: “Young people often consume small nuggets of the games via social media, rather than watching the full game. That means brands need to think carefully about where they put their messages.” In terms of which formats they should use to do so, UM’s David Queamante explains that the right way to look at it is to wonder whether the format already works or not. In his words, “If a 15-second video works best for your objectives during the World Cup, it’s probably because that ad format works best at any time.”

How are brands and agencies competing, and how will they win?

Horizon Media’s Karina Dobarro

In the words of Karina Dobarro VP, Managing Director, Multicultural Brand Strategy at Horizon Media: “World Cup will not only deliver reach and engagement of Hispanic fans but a level of cultural connection unparalleled by any other sports property. It will be key for brands to determine how to stand out from the crowd in an authentic way. Be creative in finding touch points to capture Hispanic fans across devices and time zones.” With everybody trying to stand out, creativity is really important.

There are a number of ways in which we can witness how brands and agencies compete to stand out in the midst of all the marketing efforts around the World Cup. Team sponsors like Nike and Adidas, for example, fight an epic branding tournament. Who wins will depend not only on their marketing campaigns, but also on who represents which teams, who has the most star players, and how they engage fans online. According to an analysis by Venngage, Adidas is likely to win at brand health this year.

Other FIFA partners, like Kia, are using the World Cup as a chance to fuel young soccer fans’ dreams. The Kia Champ is an activation that allows soccer fandom to directly participate in the World Cup experience. Sixteen teams from 16 countries competed in regional and national finals for the chance to play in Moscow on June 30 and watch a round of 16 matches. Moreover, the brand chose 64 children to start the tournament on June 14. “For Hyundai and Kia who are FIFA Sponsors, we expect the 2018 World Cup to have a positive impact on brand health,” asserts Cynthia Dickson, Associate Director, Multicultural Strategy at Canvas Worldwide. “Especially for Kia, who will activate U.S. Hispanic-targeted media during this World Cup.”

What are the risks?

world cupThe choice of Russia as World Cup host has been challenged by some people because of the controversy surrounding the country lately. With its 11 time zones, this huge territory poses logistical challenges. Also, things like Russia’s involvement in the Crimean War is tricky. Its racism issues (shared with FIFA), and the rumors surrounding the U.S. election have raised numerous doubts in marketers’ minds. However, the need to connect with audiences remains, and this opportunity is not one to miss.

“When the world’s star players take to the turf and flags are hanging from every pub, sponsors will hope that all the negative pre-event worries will be forgotten and the world’s passion for football will take over,” says James Kirkham, head of the football media network Copa 90. As Cynthia Dickson explains, the World Cup is a major opportunity to align with target passion points and impact brand health metrics, including awareness and perception.” Brands know this, so there’s a good chance they will find the way to surmount risks.



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