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How global brands are scoring on and off the field during FIFA

How global brands are scoring on and off the field during FIFA Evan Westenberger
The biggest event of 2014 in sports (and marketing) is the FIFA World Cup 2014, estimated to generate $4 billion in revenue for FIFA with nearly all revenue coming from television and marketing rights. We’ve seen global brands put their best marketing strategies on the pitch, hoping to connect with 50% of the global soccer fan population. What new technologies, new perspectives and fresh ideas are  resonating with fans and why during this billion dollar business of the world cup featuring 31 countries and 64 matches?

Matches between the world’s top soccer teams haven’t been the only exciting thing during the FIFA 2014 World Cup. The marketing campaigns that support the World Cup have been refreshingly creative and many of them are almost as thrilling to watch as the games. Here are the six most exciting and creative marketing that we’ve seen so far:

1. Pepsi
Pepsi launched an interactive video that was the highlight of their “Now is What You Make It” campaign. The video allows consumers to interact with different objects online, creating a custom experience, such as a video with a personalized autographed ball. This campaign was also supported by “limited edition” items that blended together sports, music and art. This campaign has been successful because it gives people a personalized experience that is as much art as it is advertising.

2. Nike
Nike has had one of the most successful campaigns with their video “The Last Game”, which  has had over 62 million views within the span of a few weeks. The five minute video uses animation to tell an in-depth story of World Cup players that need to “Risk Everything” to overcome massive odds. The stories are relatable, told well, and global in nature. It also highlights the Just Do It Nike brand with the “Risk Everything” campaign theme. The campaign is also tied up neatly with a custom social network created by Nike for soccer fans called “talk futbol 24/7”. The social network allows Nike to participate in a continuous dialog with soccer’s most dedicated fans, people who are willing to buy the latest Nike gear.

3. Coca Cola
Coca Cola’s brand promise of fun, freedom and expression was showcased during their World Cup campaign. They demonstrated these values with a short film that shows how Coca Cola gave people from developing countries a free trip to the World Cup, let people express themselves through a crowdsourced “Happiness Flag”, and will bring fun to schools in need with through free soccer balls. All of their work during the World Cup reinforced their brand’s core promise, and did it in very creative ways.

4. Hyundai
Hyundai, the official sponsor of the 2014 World Cup, created the popular campaign, “Because Futbol”, which shows how far people will go for their love of soccer. The campaign was supported by custom second screen interactions and Tumblr artists. Their strong messaging and ability to integrate the emotions that many people feel for soccer is seen through their “Avoidance” spot. Like Coca Cola and others, Hyundai followed the core tenet of content marketing, which is to communicate without selling.

5. Visa
Visa took a unique perspective on their marketing for this World Cup by bringing together Nobel Laureates to discuss their deep held feelings for soccer. You wouldn’t expect Nobel Laureates to get competitive when it comes to sports, but soccer brings it out in them. Instead of focusing of focusing on selling the Visa service during their ad spot, they were able to tell a compelling story about passion for soccer. They did so using some of the smartest people in the world, which in turn helps build trust in the Visa brand. Also, Visa’s “Everywhere you want to be” slogan ties in nicely with the World Cup. See the “United In Rivalry” campaign here.

6. Adidas
Adidas has created the largest marketing campaign in sports history. Instead of focusing on creating new social network like Nike, or interactive videos like Pepsi they took a more traditional approach and   engaged well-known celebrities to promote their brand. They used some of the biggest names in soccer and music to create powerful videos in their “All In” or “Nothing” campaigns. These videos worked well because of the broad emotional appeal, high production value, and the music by Kanye West.

Overall, the marketing campaigns for the FIFA 2014 World Cup have been creative, and have supported the branding and messaging for some of the world’s top brands . What can marketers learn from these campaigns?

  • Video is an ideal outlet to create unique and interactive experiences like Pepsi, Nike, and Coca Cola.

  • Showcase your brand promise and focus on emotional connection rather than sales pitches, as demonstrated by Hyundai, Coke and Visa.

  • Make sure that celebrity endorsements are used intelligently. Visa was able to take seemingly unrelated celebrities and tie their story right back to the World Cup in a credible way.

Evan has produced and managed content for a city, university, and health organizations, as well as enterprise technology clients including Microsoft. He honed his communication skills during his time in the Masters of Communication in Digital Media...

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