Is this the Weirdest Soccer World Cup Ever from an Advertising Perspective?

The 2022 Soccer World Cup is less than 6 weeks away. Normally the World Cup takes place in the summer of the Northern Hemisphere and matches occur during the afternoon or evening. Not this time as the event coincides with the busiest marketing season of the year. How Hisense’s Manuel Medina Riverroll, T-Mobile’s Diego Osuna, Omnicom Media Group’s Michael Roca and UM’s David Queamante are planning World Cup advertising.

With, according to Fifa, a forecasted engagement of 5 billion people, the Soccer World Cup is a unique massive global event, only paralleled in scale by the Olympic Games. 32 teams will compete across 64 matches in the 22nd running of the Soccer World Cup. And this year, the Soccer World Cup is taking place in the middle of the busiest marketing season– commencing right before Black Friday with the finals happening only a week before Christmas. Is this an opportunity for marketers to target viewers who are actively engaged and ready to shop, or is it going to be even more of a challenge to get through all the noise? We interviewed executives in the Portada network of brand marketers and asked them how they are planning for World Cup Advertising in this unusual, (or weird?), year.

How will marketers handle the advertising noise with Black Friday, Cyber Day, the Holidays and World Cup all happening at the same time?

Busiest Time in the U.S. Marketing Calendar

World Cup Advertising
Michael Roca, Managing Director, DE&I Investment, at Omnicom Media Group

“The biggest difference of the 2022 World Cup vs. past world cups is the fact that it is taking place during the busiest time on the US marketing calendar, the holidays vs. the traditional June/July timeframe.  Marketers are eager to reach elusive, unduplicated, and engaged viewers during this crowded period, and the World Cup audience fits the bill to a tee.  The World Cup provides incredible scale within a four-week period, so clients who are more upper-funnel focused are going to be drawn to the mass reach appeal of the event,” says Michael Roca, Managing Director, DE&I Investment, at Omnicom Media Group.

 

The World Cup provides incredible scale within a four-week period, so clients who are more upper-funnel focused are going to be drawn to the mass reach appeal of the event.

Will the Timing of the Event Make a Difference?

David Queamante, SVP, Client Business Partner at UM Worldwide

David Queamante, SVP, Client Business Partner at UM Worldwide, notes that most of the brands he plans and buys media for are not holiday/gifts. “That lowers the impact of the 2022 Soccer World Cup for us a bit. Most of my brands are not holiday/gifts, so it’s possible that this year’s Q4 timing works better for other brands. In terms of media channels, I’m not sure the timing makes much of a difference. The World Cup is such a strong property, that the usual rules of media seasonality probably don’t matter.”

The World Cup is such a strong property, that the usual rules of media seasonality probably don’t matter.

To Brad Ross, VP of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing for The Coca-Cola Company,  the timing of the event is actually an advantage:  “The duality of first post-pandemic event of this scale, and the late-year timing, is truly special. We’ll be heading into the most festive time of year, when life starts to slow down a bit and people should have more time and energy to come together and celebrate,” Ross notes.

World Cup Advertising: How to Handle all the Noise

Manuel Medina Riveroll, Sr. Marketing Director Hisense Mexico

At our recent Portada Live brand marketing event, Alejandro Santa Martinez, Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Leader, Latin America at Philips, asked Manuel Medina Riveroll, Sr. Marketing Director Hisense Mexico, how Hisense, an official World Cup sponsor, will handle the advertising noise with Buen Fin, Black Friday, Cyber day and World Cup all happening at the same time. Medina Riverroll answered that “It’s a very interesting question because it is the only time in history that we have ‘El Buen Fin’ with World Cup and the Christmas season together. The way we are thinking about it is by segmenting channels and by objectives. We are different from other Fifa World Soccer brands like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s: Hisense in North America is a challenger brand, so we have different objectives for each of our media partnerships. We sell TVs but also white goods, smartphones, air conditioning equipment and we use other channels to drive consideration for purchase. On Black Friday, Buen Fin, or Christmas what you want to make sure is that you provide assistance to eCommerce. But in this case, it is a very different way of advertising in terms of creative and the way we approach media as we look for purchase consideration and awareness.”

The way we are thinking about it is by segmenting channels and by objectives.

World Cup Advertising: The Hispanic Opportunity

Diego Osuna
T-Mobile’s Diego Osuna at a recent #PortadaLive event

Diego Osuna, Sr Manager, Integrated Marketing Strategy, at T-Mobile, asserts that “the World Cup lights up so many cultural affinity elements for the Hispanic Segment.”  Osuna acknowledges that he regularly does not watch a lot of soccer, but that there is something special about the world cup that brings people together. Osuna, who leads Segment Marketing for T-Mobile adds that “as a kid, we would always work on the world cup sticker album by Panini and there was as much fun in the build-up to the world cup as in the event itself. This year will be no exception, except that as marketers we are in new territory with the timing of the World Cup aligned with the all-important fourth quarter instead of the usual time frame of summer. In addition to competing with Holiday eyeballs, this year Fútbol will go head-to-head with Football so that will be interesting to play out. Finally, those of us on the West Coast get to wake up at 2 am for some of those early matchups! T-Mobile has a long history of going big for the World Cup and while at this stage I cannot say a lot about our campaign, you can be sure we are going to have fun with it one way or another.”

Those of us on the West Coast get to wake up at 2 am for some of those early matchups!

UM Worldwide’s David Queamante notes that marketing/advertising activations are extremely effective with the Hispanic audience. “I haven’t done any World Cup activations, due to it being overseas this time. We have activated at Concerts and other, U.S. Fútbol events, however, and gotten a lot of audience engagement.  We have also partnered with Andres Cantor and his Fútbol de Primera radio program in the past. I don’t think I can get into the specifics of those programs, but we have metrics that indicate that sponsor mentions and branded segments have an outsized impact in terms of ad awareness and retention.”

“The data speaks for itself: Hispanics account for almost 70% of all US soccer viewership, compared to less than 15% of viewership to all sports, moreover the 2018 World Cup reached almost 60% of the entire US Hispanic population.  These truths are why our clients understand how critical of a cultural moment the World Cup means to the Hispanic audience, and why we have several who will be activating during matches across all media platforms in both Spanish and Language broadcasts,” says Omnicom Media Group’s Michael Roca.

Good Time for App Marketing 

One thing is clear, in the upcoming  Soccer World Cup digital marketing will be even more prevalent than in the last one in Russia in 2018. Jessica Roman, VP Media Director, at Publicis Media Group. notes that “this time around, while television continues to be prominent for World Cup viewing, brands are recognizing the power of digital and really leaning in, as well as embracing social as a key component of this mega event.” The timing also bodes well for app advertising.   “Given the holiday rush window, and the morning/afternoon match times, app marketing will be critical for key categories such as retail, QSR, and automotive.  With apps reaching over 30 million US Hispanics, marketers are going to want to make sure their efforts are either in-culture or in-language,” notes Omnicom Media Group’s Roca.

Massive Global Audience (Sources: Fifa, Geca)

Event Audience
2018 World Cup Final 1.1 billion viewers
2018 World Cup average 517 million concurrent viewers
Average La Liga 2021/2022 match 0.301 million