The brands that are (already) winning the World Cup in online video

For the second year running, April proved a banner month for branded video.

Last year, the month saw the debut of the year's most viewed video, Dove's "Real Beauty Sketches," and the return of some old friends in Evian's "Baby & Me." Last April, those two campaigns garnered more than 99 million views in total.

Dove had another massive month this April, generating more than 58.1 million views. More than 96 percent of those views came from "Patches," the brand's latest entry in its "Campaign for Real Beauty."

The campaign stirred debate. Was it a moving piece of content or one that talked down to women? And as we've seen time and time again, this debate jumpstarted massive viewership.

While Dove's campaign showed its video know-how, it was Nike that stole the month, with more than 67.9 million views. While not an official sponsor of the tournament, the apparel brand capitalized on the buzz of the upcoming World Cup with its "Risk Everything" campaign.

While the campaign has several different creative assets, the one that has driven the most views is "Winner Stays." The four-minute video shows kids playing a game of soccer to decide who gets to stay on the field. As they are playing, they envision themselves as Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, among other famous soccer stars, playing in front of the entire world.

In just three days, the video accrued nearly 30 million views. By the end of the month, it would account for nearly 83 percent of the brand's total viewership for the month. Today, the campaign stands at more than 87.8 million views. That makes it the second most-viewed campaign of 2014, to date. (Wren's "First Kiss" is the most viewed, and Dove's "Patches" is the third.)

Nike is just one of a number of brands that made big World Cup pushes in April, despite the tournament not beginning until the end of June. The event lends itself to apparel brands like Nike and adidas and CPG brands like Gatorade, but brands from other categories have also created content for the sporting event. Both Samsung (No. 3 on the chart) and Castrol (No. 9 on the chart) have also released successful World Cup campaigns.

It's no wonder that every brand -- whether it has an easy to recognize tie to the event or not -- wants in on the World Cup action. It is greatest marketing tent pole in the world. Here's some perspective: Approximately 112 million people watched the Super Bowl this year, but 3.2 billion watched the last World Cup (and 715 million watched the finals alone).

And the World Cup doesn't just drive a big audience; it drives a big passionate audience. Soccer -- football, outside of the U.S. -- is the most popular sport in the world. Football fans paint their faces and wear their countries' flags. People have literally been killed over it.

If you can create content that engages these fans, like Nike has, they will watch, share, and talk about it with their friends and fellow fans. There are a few ways to do this.

A brand can lean on nationalism and pride in country. Coca-Cola often takes this approach during sporting events, as it did during the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics this year with "It's Beautiful" (16.2 million views).

A brand can also get fans excited about the event with crowdsourced content or contests. Doritos has been doing this with "Crash the Super Bowl" for eight years, and with great success, generating easily more than 100 million views in the process.

But the most popular and successful approach this year has been the use of celebrities -- more specifically the most popular soccer players in the world. Nike's "Risk Everything" shows Ronaldo and Rooney, along with a dozen other pros from countries across the globe, doing what they do best. They did something similar during the last World Cup with "Write the Future," which has accumulated more than 52.4 million views to date.

Samsung's "Galaxy 11" also uses a gaggle of World Cup players, including Ronaldo, Rooney, and Messi. That campaign, in which the players team up to take on invading aliens, has garnered more than 38.2 million views since December. And Castrol's "Footkhana" puts Neymar Jr. head-to-head with Ken Block. It's received 17.7 million views.

Nike's performance in April, along with that of Castrol and Samsung, shows the impact and excitement around the World Cup, despite being more than two months out from the beginning of the tournament. With that in mind, May and June should prove interesting months as brands compete to own the event.

Mallory Russell is content editor at Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

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