Soccer World Cup


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.


After Friday’s World Cup Finals Draw in Costa do Sauipe in Bahia (Brazil) sports marketers continue to look into ways to best leverage the mega event: Nike and Adidas  are getting ready for their next marketing battle. The Draw placed Mexico and the United States in groups with very strong opponents. Does their underdog status bode well for marketing strategies and ad creatives?

Once Mexico qualified for the 2014 Soccer World Cup to the relief of the sports marketing world two weeks ago, all eyes focused on Friday’s World Cup Draw in Costa do Sauipe (Brazil, Bahia). Both the Mexican and the U.S. National Soccer Teams were placed in challenging groups.  Starting on June Seleccion Mexicana de Futbol13,2014 Mexico will face Brazil, Croatia and Cameroun in Group A. The U.S.A will play Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G starting on June 16. Germany, Brazil and Portugal are among the 2014 World Cup’s top favorites. What are the implications of the Draw in sports marketing terms? Is the underdog role the U.S. and Mexico will play in their groups something marketing strategists can take advantage of ? Gustavo Dominguez, owner of Los Angeles based sports marketing agency, PrimeTime Sports and Entertainment, does thinks so. “The role of the underdog can be expressed very well in the creative of sports marketing campaigns. It can be an effective concept to engage the fans,” Dominguez tells Portada. He adds that in, any case, soccer marketing campaigns have to be an extension of the passion of soccer fans.

(Read a related article on how much Mexico, the U.S. and other National Soccer Teams get paid to play pre-2014 Socccer World Cup friendlies)

The Official Ball, the Brazuca

On the eve of Friday’s World Cup finals draw, Adidas unveiled the official ball of the tournament. The ‘brazuca’ has been named after a local slang term to describe the Brazilian way of life.The official ball is at the centre of Adidas’ marketing plans for the Fifa World Cup. Adidas last month agreed a deal to continue its relationship with Fifa until 2030. Adidas has made every Fifa World Cup ball since 1970. The company has also established a Twitter account for the ball. Its marketing activities will form part of the company’s wider ‘All In or Nothing’ World Cup campaign. Retail plans have also been launched, with the ‘brazuca’ available from selected Adidas outlets around the world starting this week. In the last World Cup, the company sold 13 million balls worldwide, including miniballs and replicas. The brazuca’s U.S. $160 match ball also comes in a miniball and replica versions starting at U.S. $13. It is expected that Adidas will obtain ‘brazuca” ball sales of approximately US $650 million. Patrik Nilsson, CEO of Adidas North America. told Time that he  expects a big chunk of that business to be in the U.S. “Our retail partners were surprised by how many balls they could sell last time,” says Nilsson. With the World Cup played in the same time zone this summer, fans will find it even easier to follow the games.  And see for themselves whether brazuca flies true.”

The Adidas-Nike battle

SoccerThe battle for being the world’s largest sport brand between Nike and Adidas rages on. Adidas has for more than 40 years decorated soccer kit and shoes with its distinctive parallel lines logo. It has strong partnerships setting it up well for the challenge against Nike: a close relationship with German club Bayern Munich, of which it owns 9%, and with FIFA. Nike entered the soccer market relatively late  in 1994. But it already  has several major partnerships with clubs, including English champions Manchester United.

According to Euromonitor data, Nike currently owns 14.6% of the global sporting goods market to Adidas’ 11.4%, and is challenging Adidas No. 1 position in Europe. Adidas 13.2%  of the western European sporting goods market in 2012 compared to Nike’s 12.4%.




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