Branded video 101: World Cup edition

The World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest media event on the planet. In 2010, it reached an audience of 3 billion fans across the globe. And these aren't just any fans; these are passionate and highly invested fans, just the sort that brands are eager to get their hands on.

Branded video was just coming into its own during the last World Cup. From 2009 to 2010, branded video was viewed 2.8 billion times. From 2010 to 2013, it's been viewed 16.2 billion times. In the four years since the last FIFA tournament, branded video has become a part of popular culture, and brands have taken advantage of years of learning from events like the Super Bowl to make a big splash with video during this World Cup.

One of the biggest lessons that brands have learned from events like the Super Bowl is that a seeding strategy that launches content well in advance of the event often leads to more views and earned media. Of the more than 50 World Cup campaigns launched by 30 brands in relation to the World Cup, for example, 18 were released in May.

By releasing more than a month before the first game kicked off, brands looked to take advantage of the excitement and buzz building around national teams and famous players. And it looks to have paid off. Of the more than 464 million views attributed to World Cup campaigns (as of June 16), more than 161.3 million views, or 35 percent, were generated in May.

More than half of those May views can be attributed to the No. 1 brand on this month's iMedia Brands in Video chart, Samsung. The consumer electronics brand garnered more than 87.1 million views during the month. And while the brand has more than 180 active campaigns accruing views, more than half of its May views come from one campaign -- "Galaxy 11: The Training."

Samsung's "Galaxy 11: The Training" is a continuation of "Galaxy 11: The Beginning," a campaign that has generated more than 40.2 million views and helped propel the brand to the No.2 spot on the chart last month. The latest campaign follows a group of World Cup players -- including Ronaldo, Rooney, and Messi -- as they train to take on aliens invading Earth. In May, it accounted for more than 47 million of Samsung's views. In total, the campaign has now generated more than 68.6 million views.

Samsung is just one of many brands cashing in on the buzz of celebrities to drive World Cup campaign viewership. More than half of all World Cup campaigns feature a famous soccer player. This too is a well-established practice from the Super Bowl -- capitalizing on celebrities' built-in fan bases to drive conversations and social sharing. This buzz is compounded when multiple celebrities are featured in one campaign.

Using multiple celebrities in a campaign is something of a trend during this World Cup, as it was during the Super Bowl. Of the 28 campaigns featuring soccer stars, 19 use more than one. While in many cases these campaigns only contain two players, others include as many as 17. Two brands to make good use of celebrity spokespeople during this World Cup season are Nike and adidas.

Nike's four active campaigns accumulated 52.4 million views for the Portland-based brand in May. As it did in April, "Risk Everything" propelled the brand to the No. 2 spot by garnering more than 41.1 million views in May.

The campaign has seven different creative assets, but 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, Wayne Rooney, and other famous soccer stars, playing in front of the entire world.

The total viewership of "Risk Everything" is now more than 109 million views, making it the most-viewed World Cup campaign, the second most-viewed campaign of the year, and the 16th branded video campaign to ever surpass 100 million views.

Adidas generated 45.2 million views with six active campaigns in May. The most-viewed of the German brand's campaigns was "The Dream," which generated more than 30.8 million views in the week it was live in May. Directed by Fernando Meirelles ("City of God") and set to a soundtrack by Kanye West, the campaign features soccer superstars like Lionel Messi dreaming about the upcoming tournament.

Other World Cup advertisers on this month's chart include YouTube, Coca-Cola, and Kia. Seeing as how we're less than a couple of weeks into the tournament, we're sure to see next month's chart again dominated by soccer and tournament-themed branded videos.

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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