Any brand -- consumer or business-to-business -- that's intrigued with the possibilities of experiential marketing should pay close attention to what's happening in Brazil this summer and down the road in the summer of 2016. Both will offer possibly the best exhibition of experiential marketing ever seen, plus countless experiments that will offer valuable lessons for marketers.
We're talking soccer's World Cup this summer and the Summer Olympics two years from now. Soccer (or football, fútbal, sokker, and many more names around the world) is a pillar of Brazilian culture and the lifeblood of its sports. The first World Cup in Brazil in 64 years, the country sees the event -- 64 games in 32 days -- as a chance to impress the world on its own terms on the pitch and in the media, etc.
The Olympics in 2016 are Brazil's chance to impress the world on the world's terms. Similar to a wedding, there are certain conventions the host country must observe, and worldwide respect hinges on how well the host executes on those, while adding something unique. Putting aside ongoing concerns that Brazil might be overtaxed in mounting two world sports festivals, it's clear that the country will be an experiential marketing hotbed for the next two years. Here are the reasons that will illuminate both Brazil and Latin America from a marketing perspective and best practices for marketers to consider.
Brazil is an optimistic and passionate country
This sounds like a stereotype, but it's true of the national mindset -- also in countries like Mexico and Colombia -- and especially in contrast to Argentina, which looks more to Europe in socio-cultural matters. This is a real advantage for brands. The emotional component is more important and more effective in branding in Brazil, and this perfectly suits experiential marketing.
Brazilians tend to trust brands and each other
The recent economic boom has made Brazilians even more respectful of successful brands -- international and regional. At the same time, owing in part to tradition, they respect word-of-mouth marketing and are eager to take friends' advice on brands or other Brazilians' via social media. Brazil is one of the most Facebook-friendly countries in the world. And there's another crucial piece: Brazilians aren't as concerned with security and privacy issues as people in the U.S. or Europe. If they like or don't like something, they'll tell everyone, and this is unique to the whole region in general.
The value of a shared experience
Experiential marketing is predicated on more than the brand offering an experience -- the audience has to be willing to participate. This is why social/cultural events are prime opportunities for marketers. The elements of performance and the shared experience are already there. Often the experiential element is the spectator's opportunity to become an "actor," so to speak.
For example, Coca-Cola has used crowdsourcing to create its World Cup anthem, with fans submitting their own videos to audition for a spot in the final, official video. Crowdsourcing is a perfect example of the internet's ability to reach wide and aggregate eyeballs. The Coke promotion is available to fans the world over -- 3.2 billion are expected to watch some part of the World Cup -- and it encourages every fan to feel a part of the event, thanks to Coke's well known role as an official World Cup sponsor.
And while crowdsourcing is a great way to tap into passion around civic events, it's not limited to that. Even the most staid brand can leverage its own internet presence to encourage "shopper" involvement to crowdsource product suggestions via Facebook groups, polls to help choose product names or logos, etc. So as you read about experiential marketing in Brazil, don't assume the tactic won't apply to your brand. People are people after all.
Both the World Cup and the Olympics have a worldwide audience, and experts are suggesting that brands (including consumer products and sports media brands) will make heavy use of real-time digital events, such as chats with soccer players who are watching the same games as fans -- for example, Heineken's effective #sharethesofa Twitter promotion.
In fact, this tactic can be very effective around non-entertainment events. A brand that has its own marketers tweet consistently and smartly from a major trade show can show its own category importance and expertise. This results in helping potential customers feel tied to an event they were unable to attend.
Yes, experiential marketing lends itself to shared experiences, and the internet only amplifies this. But in Brazil, as in so many developing countries, there are barriers.
Obstacles to overcome
For starters, there are vast swaths of the country with a poor digital connection to the major cities and making them far from homogeneous in affluence and cultural features. This requires feet-on-the-ground expertise for brands that want to market in Brazil and Latin America in general -- even those that want to use Brazil as a platform for global messaging.
And while the creative end of marketing in Brazil has developed quickly, the executional piece often suffers from a lack of qualified vendors in production, printing, and management. Brazilian consumers are starting to ask for sophistication and consistency from their brands, both global and local.
So what are the best practices for marketers to consider?
Experiential marketing can't always be planned months or years in advance. Sometimes it has to be in real-time. Coca-Cola and adidas are two examples of companies with teams of marketers who monitor topics in the news, social media, and through Google search to look for timely, effective tie-ins to the World Cup.
There is data that suggests that a strong majority of searches done by fans watching the World Cup will be on mobile devices, which is a big change from four years ago. A recent MarketingWeek article noted that Budweiser's content development team is prepared to leverage search data quickly with content that might be sparked by the World Cup, but extend into other entertainment realms. This means it helps to have content and structures in place ahead of time for immediate distribution.
Same with Listerine, whose World Cup execution was termed a "juggernaut" by MediaPost's MarketingDaily. "We need to reach the right audience with messaging relevant to the moment and the match," said a Listerine spokesman. "By adjusting our paid media behind the social content that performs the best, we will be able to maximize our advertising dollars to deliver the strongest consumer engagement opportunities for our brand."
Political and economic events over the past several years put big-budget, government-supported events like the World Cup and the Olympics, in a sensitive position. High-profile protests are a constant concern for marketers. An adidas marketer has noted that even well-intentioned marketing pieces can come across as ill-timed or insincere against a background of sudden controversial events.
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"Digitally generated Brazilian national flag" image via Shutterstock.